How to Prevent Water Damage

Article retrieved from House Logic

 

Water damage is the No. 1 culprit that weakens your home’s foundation and the very core that holds your house together.

You’ve heard about core strength for your body. Well, water damage hits at the core strength of your house, eventually causing serious structural damage. Damp wood invites termites and carpenter ants; plus, it causes mold and mildew.

Here’s how to prevent water damage using three easy strategies that will give you peace of mind the next time heavy storms hit.

 

#1. Ensure Good Drainage

Why it matters: Poor drainage weakens your foundation, causing cracks, uneven settling, and pathways for water to enter your home.

How to do it:

  • Clean your gutters routinely. A clogged gutter will send cascades of water down the side of your house, damaging your siding and foundation.
  • Ensure your downspouts direct water 5 to 10 feet away from your house.
  • Make sure your yard is sloped at least 6 inches over a 10-foot span away from your foundation. That slope keeps water from getting down right next to your foundation, where it could cause walls to lean, crack the masonry, and create leaks. (For crawl spaces, keeping water away makes sure excess water doesn’t pool underneath your floor, making for damp conditions that encourage mold, rot, and insects.)
  • But don’t let the soil get too dry, either. Long dry spells let the soil around your house dry out and shrink. A big rain may make the soil expand, putting pressure on your foundation walls. In a drought, run a soaker hose at least 6 inches from the foundation and 3 inches under the soil to keep the soil from contracting and expanding.

Maintenance cost: Very little. Cleaning gutters can be a no-cost DIY job, or you can hire a pro for $50 to $250, depending on the size and height of your home. To get the soil slope you need, you might have to buy some additional topsoil.

Worst case if you put it off: Your foundation could settle, cracking your basement walls. The cost to stabilize, repair, and seal deteriorated foundation walls is a whopping $15,000 to $40,000.

 

#2. Test Your Sump Pump Regularly

Why it matters: Sump pumps come to life during storms. That’s not when you want to realize yours isn’t working properly. You should check it at least once a year, and ideally perform several checks during heavy storm seasons.

How to test your sump pump:

  1. Slowly fill the sump pump pit with water. Watch for the “float” (similar to the float in your toilet) to rise, which should turn on the pump. Then watch to make sure the water level falls.
  2. Test your backup pump the same way, but unplug the main pump first.
  3. If you don’t have a backup pump — or a generator — and are on municipal water, get one that runs on water pressure. If you’re on well water, your only option is the battery kind.

Maintenance cost: Testing is free; a water-powered backup sump pump, including installation, costs $150 to $350; a new battery for a battery-operated sump starts around $200.

Worst case if you put it off: Your basement could flood, ruining everything in it, including drywall and carpeting. (Did you know your regular insurance doesn’t cover flooding?) Plus you run the risk of mold and mildew — which can also be a very expensive problem.

#3. Check for Water Leaks and Fix Them

Why it matters: Persistent leaks lead to mold and mildew, rot, and even termites and carpenter ants (they like chewing soggy wood, since it’s soft). Yet if you fix a leak soon after it starts, there may be no long-term damage at all.

How to check for leaks:

  • Check for dark spots under pipes inside sink cabinets, stains on ceilings, toilets that rock, and of course drips.
  • At least once a year, inspect your roof. Repair missing, loose, and damaged shingles. Repair any cracked caulking and check for leaks around flashing.

Maintenance cost: Negligible for a simple fix, such as a new washer. A visit from a plumber might set you back $250; a roof repair, a few hundred dollars to $1,000.

Worst case if you put it off: Drips ruin the cabinet under the kitchen sink, and run down into the floor sheathing and joists underneath, so you need a structural repair, plus new cabinets and new kitchen flooring. Or the roof rots, so you need a new roof and repairs to rooms directly beneath.

So now you know how to prevent water damage — and add years (and lower maintenance costs to your home!).

Fixed vs. Variable

The Bank of Canada has increased the overnight rate by a quarter point, as of yesterday’s meeting.

 

What does this mean to you if you have a variable rate mortgage?

 

It means that the Bank of Canada Prime rate, which most lenders adopt as their Prime rate, has increased from 3.45% to 3.70%. With 5 year terms offering anywhere from Prime -.75 % (currently 2.95%) to Prime minus 1.00% (currently 2.70%) this still represents a far wiser option than the fixed rate mortgages for a 5 year term. This video is fantastic in explaining the risks/ benefits of taking a variable rate versus a fixed rate mortgage.

 

If you have a variable rate mortgage, or are considering one: YOU SHOULD WATCH THIS!

 

Image retrieved from Yahoo Canada.

Keep Your House in Tip-Top Shape: An Incredibly Handy Home Maintenance Checklist

Article retrieved from The Art of Manliness.

 

When buying a home, most people probably first think of the financial responsibility. Don’t let yourself forget, however, about the time and labor that home ownership also requires. Just like regular oil changes for your car keep your engine happy and healthy, keeping up with regular home maintenance tasks will keep you from future headaches and wasted money.

It can be intimidating to think about these various tasks, especially if you’re a new homeowner. It’s a long list — there’s no denying that. The good news is that you can do the majority of it on your own without much experience. Google is your best friend, and if you really get stuck, call up your local handyman to help you out.

In order to maximize your efficiency and actually get all of these tasks done, you might want to create a home maintenance calendar for yourself. Whether online or on paper, you can jot down small, regular tasks for each weekend and not be too overwhelmed. We’ve listed tasks that need to be done monthly, quarterly, and biannually. We’ve also given you a list of tasks to be completed seasonally. Not every expert agrees as to which task needs to be done in which season, so this isn’t a black and white list, necessarily. Do what works for you and your schedule, and as long as all these things get accomplished, your home will be happy for years and years to come.

Monthly

  • Inspect, and possibly change out HVAC filters. Many experts will say to change the filters monthly, but that’s not always necessary. For smaller families without pets or allergies, you’ll likely be okay changing the filters every 2-3 months. If the filter is dirty, change it out, otherwise inspect it again next month. I’ve also been told by handymen to go with cheaper filters and replace them more often versus going with the expensive filters. (You can also get it out of your mind by using a delivery service like Cleaner Filters.)
  • Clean kitchen sink disposal. There are a bunch of ways to do this, but the handiest and best all-around solution seems to be vinegar ice cubes. Put some vinegar in an ice tray and let it freeze, then run the ice cubes through the disposal. It freshens it, but as a bonus, ice sharpens the blades. You’re welcome.
  • Clean range hood filters. If you’ve never thought of doing this, you’re in for a real “treat” when you get that filter off the hood to clean it for the first time. The Family Handyman suggests simply using a degreaser from an auto parts store mixed with hot water. Let the filter sit for a few minutes, rinse it off, and you’re good to go.
  • Inspect your fire extinguisher(s). We’ll assume you have and know how to use an extinguisher. This inspection doesn’t require much: ensure it has easy access (not being blocked by a garbage can or anything else), that the gauge shows adequate pressure, and that it has no visible signs of wear and tear.

Quarterly

  • Test smoke/carbon dioxide detectors. Another simple task; your detectors should have a “test” button. If the alarm sounds, you’re good to go. If not, replace batteries immediately and test again. If it still doesn’t sound, it’s possible there’s simply corrosion on the battery terminal, and it won’t detect new batteries.  Clean it and try again. If it still doesn’t work, you’ll likely need a new detector.
  • Test garage door auto-reverse feature. In 1993, federal law required all garage doors to have this feature after multiple child deaths. Test every month by placing a 2×4 on the ground where the door would close. It should reverse after a second or so when the door hits the wood. Also test the photo-electric sensors if you have them by placing something in front of them (not your body). If the door doesn’t immediately go back up, you have a problem.
  • Run water and flush toilets in unused spaces. This mostly applies to guest bathrooms, or any other sinks/water sources you don’t use on a regular basis. The idea is to prevent grime or any other kind of build up. Regularly running a little bit of water through will prevent this.
  • Check water softener, add salt if needed. You shouldn’t need to add salt every month, but better to check anyway, as it only takes about 5 seconds.

Biannually

  • Test your water heater’s pressure relief valve. This will prevent mineral and corrosion buildup, which safeguards against leaks. It will also help your heater run more efficiently.
  • Give your house a deep clean. Take one Saturday every six months with your whole family, and give the whole house a proper deep clean. Appliances, windows, dusting every nook and cranny (including the basement), etc. Keeping things clean and not letting dirt/grime/dust build up over years and years will help keep your home in tip-top shape.
  • Replace batteries in smoke/carbon dioxide detectors. I’d never heard this before, actually. I just assumed you changed it out when it started giving you the low battery beeping noise. This tip was in everything we researched, however. With something as important as this, you can’t be too careful, and batteries won’t break your bank. Change ‘em out every six months.
  • Vacuum your refrigerator coils. I actually learned this tip from a refrigerator repairman, and our research confirmed it. The fridge can use up to 15 percent of your home’s total power, so you want it running as efficiently as possible. Over time, the coils get dirty and your fridge requires more juice. You can save up to $100 a year by doing this, and it’s not at all a difficult task.

Annually (Organized by Season)

Spring

Spring is a big month for home maintenance. They don’t call it “Spring Cleaning” for nothing. Especially focus on the exterior of your home as it’s just gone through winter and is preparing for summer heat, and in some parts of the country, brutal humidity.

  • Check the exterior drainage. Will rain water flow away from the house? Puddles should not stand around your home for more than 24 hours. If water stays, or moves toward your foundation, you have a few options. First, check your gutters. It could be a bad spout or a loose connection there; they may also just need cleaning. Second, you can grade the area around your home yourself with some dirt; this has worked just fine for me in the past. Third, for pavement, you can have professionals come out and raise it so it drains away from your home.
  • Clean out gutters. They’ve likely accumulated leaves from the fall and grime/sediment from the winter snows and/or rains.
  • Inspect the exterior of your home. Is any paint chipping? Is any siding damaged from winter? Are there any holes in your brick? Take a close look all around your house, and make any repairs as needed. Also be sure to check the foundation for any cracks. A good silicone/caulk can fix a lot of your problems.
  • Get your air conditioning system ready for summer; consider having it serviced. This one really depends on your individual home, and even which part of the country you live in. Some places mostly just use window air units, while other places (like my home in Colorado) use a big swamp cooler up on the roof — these are fairly basic machines where a quick internet search can help you fix any issues that come up. Also refer to the user guides for specific regular maintenance. Central air is obviously a more complex system. Getting it serviced by a professional should be around $100 or less, and it will save money and headaches down the road.
  • Repair/replace damaged window screens. You don’t want bugs making their way in because you missed a hole in a window screen. And no, duct tape doesn’t count. It can be a quick fix, but don’t leave it for long. It just looks bad.
  • Clear dead plants/shrubs from the house. This could double as a gardening tip, but if you didn’t trim trees or shrubs in the fall, do so now. Plants can weasel their way into cracks and holes on the exterior of your home, causing damage and shortened longevity. Nip that in the bud before it’s an issue. If you have decorative vines on the exterior, pay close attention.
  • Check trees for interference with electric lines. Have professionally trimmed if necessary.
  • Inspect roofing for damage, leaks, etc. Repair as needed; you may need a professional.

Summer

Summer is a great time to focus on the exterior of your home, as well as your lawn and garden. It’s also perfect for having that garage door open and utilizing the prolonged daylight to work on any manly projects you’ve had on the backburner.

  • Check grout in bathrooms, kitchen, etc.; repair as needed. This will prolong the life of your tiled surfaces and just looks better.
  • Inspect plumbing for leaks, clean aerators on faucets. Go around to all your faucets and toilets and check for any small leaks. If you have poor water pressure out of a faucet, the aerator is the likely culprit and it’s an extremely easy fix.
  • Take care of any insect problems you may have. Summer is their playground. You probably won’t have to look too hard to notice any insect problems. Ants, spiders, moths, etc. are all common, and fairly easy to take care of. Keep cobwebs clear, have ant poison handy, make sure all doors are tightly closed, etc.
  • Clean and repair deck/patio as needed. It generally just needs a good washing. A deck may also need re-staining. Also check for any loose boards or posts and repair as needed.
  • Clean out window wells of debris. If you have a basement, you also have window wells. All kinds of things can get down in there from leaves, to trash, to animals.
  • Check and clean dryer vent, other exhaust vents to exterior of home. While the dryer is running, check that the exhaust is coming out. It should smell nicely of fresh laundry. If there isn’t much exhaust, check for blockages as well as you can. You may need a professional. Also vacuum the lint from the hose at the dryer.
  • Clean garage. Cleaning the garage should be a summer ritual for every man. Keeping it clean and tidy will extend its life, and it often gets neglected of regular care. With all the extra dust it gets from the manly projects you’re working on, you should actually clean it even more. Once a year, however, give a thorough going-through.

Fall

Fall is an in-between season where you’re finishing up your summer home maintenance tasks as well as getting your home ready for winter. Cold, snow, and rain can do a number to a home, so you don’t want to ignore winter preparation.

  • Flush hot water heater and remove sediment. This prolongs the life of the heater and helps with efficiency as well.
  • Winterize air conditioning systems. Remove and store window units. If you have central air, cover the outside unit with a tarp or plastic sheeting and secure with bungee cords.
  • Get heating system ready for winter. Check for any leaks in windows or doors; these can cost an arm and a leg. Make sure heating vents are open and not blocked by furniture. Get furnace serviced/inspected at least every other year, preferably annually. As with the AC, this shouldn’t be a huge expense. Don’t forget about fireplaces if you have them.
  • Turn off and flush outdoor water faucets. Also flush hoses and store them. Winterize sprinkler systems as well, if you have one.
  • Get chimney cleaned, if you have one. Some folks say to do this in the spring, some say fall. Either way, just make sure it’s done once per year.
  • Test sump pumpYou don’t want to wait until you need your sump pump to find out it’s not working.
  • Check driveway/pavement for cracks. Make sure to have re-sealed before winter; water can freeze and expand in the cracks, causing more damage.
  • Buy winter gear. Have sidewalk salt, good shovels, etc. ready for winter. You never know when that first snow will come!

Winter

Winter is the time to go around the interior of your home and check for any little things you may have overlooked, or perhaps noticed and said, “I’ll get to that later.” Winter is your later. If you have any interior honey-do projects, whether it be painting, building shelves, etc., now is a great time to tackle those as well.

  • Regularly check for ice dams and icicles. De-icing cables that sit at the front of the roof work well. Don’t let icicles grow, as much as the kids may want you to. They’re not only a danger to people standing beneath them, but they’re incredibly heavy and can cause damage to your home. They also can cause water damage to your foundation when they  melt.
  • Test your electricity to the extent that you can. Always, always be extra careful when working with electricity. You can do a couple things on your own, though. Check that all outlets work; if they don’t, you can re-wire them on your own. Also, test your GFCI outlets. There are wildly varying opinions on how often to test this. Some say monthly, others say annually.
  • Tighten any handles, knobs, racks, etc. Go through the house and inspect anything that could have a loose screw.
  • Check all locks and deadbolts on your doors and windows. If anything doesn’t work right, replace.
  • Check caulking around showers and bathtubs; repair as needed.
  • Remove showerheads and clean sediment. This prolongs its life and helps with water pressure as well.
  • Deep clean and inspect the basement. Basements are notoriously overlooked, especially if they’re primarily just storage areas. Dust ‘em up, clean any windows, make sure there isn’t mold anywhere, etc. Give your basement a good inspection at least once a year.

Time to consider a variable rate mortgage?

With no change on the Bank of Canada prime rate, and very attractive spreads on variable rate offers (on high ratio purchases as low as Prime minus 1.05% – 3.45%-1.05% = 2.40%), it may be time to consider your first variable rate mortgage if you have not done so in the past!

 

    Key information to consider:

  •     Bank of Canada (BOC) meets 8 x per year…
  •     Of those 8 meetings, the BOC normally will make changes to the overnight rate, which affects the prime rate, maximum 4 times…
  •     When the BOC makes increases on the prime rate, it normally is less than .25% at a time….
  •     The Welch & Co Team uses lenders that offer a FREE CONVERSION option at anytime throughout the term, which permits you to lock in the rate….
  •     The Welch & Co Team uses lenders that charge ONLY a 3 month interest penalty if you choose to break the term early…
  •     Historical data has proven statistically that variable rate mortgages always outperform fixed rate mortgages!
  •     Mitigate the risk and pay off your mortgage far faster by setting your payment as if you have a 5 year fixed rate!

______________________________

 

Let’s pretend  you are purchasing a home for $315,000.00 with a down payment of approximately 10%.

This would leave you with a total loan amount of $290,000.00

 

Mortgage term                         5 year fixed rate                                5 year variable rate

      Mortgage rate                               3.44%                                       Prime – 1.05% = 2.40%

Monthly payment               $ 1,438.72                                $  1,284.70

 

**  Increase your payment by $ 154.02 to make it the same as the fixed rate. **

 

________________________________________________

 

Interest Paid in 5 years           $ 46,259.37                           $ 31,472.20

 

With this strategy you are saving $ 14,787.17 in interest over your five year term and reducing your amortization dramatically!

 

 

Call us today to further discuss a variable rate mortgage option!

613-546-2989.

 

https://www.bankofcanada.ca/2018/05/fad-press-release-2018-05-30/

Spring Cleaning Checklist!

Pollen is in the air, daylight is lingering later into the evening, and the birds are chirping away. You know what that means; spring is in full swing, and with it, a whole bunch of unpleasant household chores.

That’s right — it’s time to clear out the cobwebs, sweep up those dust bunnies, and get your yard barbecue-ready for the summer. But where should you start? And even more importantly, how much is this going to cost?

The good news is, spring cleaning can be as inexpensive want it to be. The bad news is, spiffing up your home on a budget might take a little more leg work. If you want to spruce things up without burning up too many Benjamins, consider this frugal spring cleaning checklist.

Eight Steps to a Frugal Spring Cleaning

1. De-clutter cabinets, closets, and common areas

When you’re trying to get rid of clutter, it helps to work from one side of your home to the other — or from top to bottom. Whichever strategy you choose, go from room to room and clear out any unwanted items from closets and cabinets.

Costly, convenient route
  • Hiring a junk and trash removal service (average cost: $135-$358)
  • Renting a dumpster for waste (average cost: $396)
Frugal route
  • Organize a garage sale
  • Collect materials for donation
  • Recycle/repurpose usable items
  • Sell to second hand stores

2. Clean your windows inside and out

If you like to open your window blinds, don’t let the sunshine compete with fingerprints and other grime. Some may not go as far as cleaning the windows, but there are some aesthetic and health-related-benefits

Costly, convenient route
  • Hiring a professional window cleaner (average cost: $50-$200)
  • Buying glass cleaner (average cost: $4-$10)
Frugal route
  • Using homemade glass cleaner with old dust rags and paper towels

Making your own homemade glass cleaner takes equal parts white vinegar and water. Pour your solution into a spray bottle and use it to clean your windows without any harsh chemicals or fumes.

3.Cleaning ceiling fans, woodwork, mini-blinds, and ledges

While much of your sneezing and watery eyes may come as a result of the natural changes of the season, there is some credit that belongs to the layers of dust that collects in areas that don’t get much attention.

Costly, convenient route
  • Buying wood polish (average cost: $4-$30)
  • Buying dusters (average cost: $5-$20)
Frugal route
  • Using homemade wood cleaner with old rags and towels

Some say you should clean baseboards and other woodwork with equal parts white vinegar and lemon juice. Others say you can get up the most dust by wiping your woodwork down with dryer sheets. Whichever frugal hack you choose, make sure to wipe down all of the wood surfaces in your home regularly to avoid dust collection.

4.Cleaning up your yard

If winter left your yard in bad shape, it’s time to restore your curb appeal! That may mean cutting ankle-high grass, raking last year’s leaves, cleaning up forgotten toys, or yanking pesky weeds.

Costly, convenient route
  • Hiring landscapers (average cost: $200-$400)
Frugal route
  • Using your own lawn care tools, or borrowing tools.
  • Asking family/friends to assist in initial cleanup

The first cleanup yard work of the season tends to be the most involved. After that, all other work should be fairly routine maintenance. If you can recruit a few others to spend a Saturday helping you knock out most of the heavy lifting, the rest of the season shouldn’t cost you much at all.

5. Cleaning out your garage

No matter how organized your garage is, all kinds of nasty things can build up in there during the cold, dreary winter months. Now that it’s warm outside, it’s time to open up the door and sweep it all out.

Costly, convenient route
  • Buying a pushbroom and new cleaning supplies (average cost: $30-$50)
Frugal route
  • Using the cleaning tools you have and making homemade cleaning solutions

Sweep dust and debris from all corners of your garage before mopping with solution of warm soapy water or vinegar water. As you remove items from your garage to clean, make sure to put them back in an organized, uncluttered fashion.

6. Cleaning your bathrooms

One of the least favorite areas to clean in your house can also be one of the toughest to clean well. But similar to your yard work, maintenance is what’s important here. Letting gunk build up in the shower and sink drains isn’t only a nuisance, but it’s also a health risk.

Costly, convenient route
  • Hiring a professional cleaner (average cost: $90-$250)
  • Buying heavy duty bathroom cleaners (average cost: $5-$20)
Frugal route
  • Using your own cleaning tools to wipe down the bathroom at the end of each day
  • Cleaning with homemade solutions

Don’t bother buying expensive chemical cleaners for your bathrooms. Instead, make your own and use a little elbow grease to get the job done. You can make your own homemade scrubbing cleaner by mixing ½ cup baking soda, 1 tablespoon of dish detergent, and distilled vinegar to texture. Clean toilets, drains, and showers with a baking soda and vinegar mixture. Rinse with warm water when you’re done, and enjoy.

7. Cleaning floors

No matter what kind of floors you have, they could use a thorough cleaning this spring. Even if you have a no shoes in the house rule, trust that you’ve still tracked countless variations of bacteria throughout every square inch. Not to mention the dust, hair, and any other unmentionable particles that have collected there.

Costly, convenient route
  • Hiring a professional cleaner (average cost: $90-$250)
  • Buying heavy duty floor cleaners (average cost: $5-$40)
Frugal route
  • Using your own cleaning tools to clean floors weekly
  • Cleaning with homemade solutions

Start with a dust mop, broom and dustpan, or floor vacuum and work from side to side until you’ve swept or vacuumed up any and all dirt in your home. Next, mix your own floor cleaner and get to mopping. Wellness Mama offers homemade floor cleaner recipes for different floor types on her website.

8. Vacuuming furniture and curtains

This is another area that’s easily neglected, outside of the occasional spray down with fabric fresheners. Keeping the windows closed for months on end could mean plenty of dirt build-up on your furniture and draperies.

Costly, convenient route
  • Hiring a professional cleaner (average cost: $90-$250)
  • Buying fabric fresheners (average cost: $5-$10)
Frugal route
  • Using your own cleaning tools to clean weekly
  • Cleaning with homemade solutions

Use a vacuum attachment to thoroughly clean all hanging draperies, couch and chair cushions, and rugs. Make your own homemade deodorizing spray and use it in place of Febreze to freshen things up when you’re done.

It’s hard to enjoy the warm weather when you have a ton of cleaning to do. Fortunately, it doesn’t take a lot of money to get your home in tip-top condition this spring; only an open weekend and a handful of non-toxic and cheap ingredients you can buy at your local grocery store. You may even have some of them in your pantry already. So don’t delay. Get started on your spring cleaning checklist early as you can. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll be ready to enjoy the season.

Article by The Simple Dollar

https://www.thesimpledollar.com/blog-overview/

Bank of Canada Qualifying Rate Increasing!

Lenders normally have until Monday, following announcements made by the Bank of Canada on a Wednesday, in order to implement the changes. The announcement for an increased Bank of Canada Qualifying rate was made yesterday – an increase from 5.14% to 5.34%.

 

This applies to all borrowers that have less than a 20% down payment for their home purchase…

 

Call us at 613-546-2989 should you have any questions at all!!!!

 

https://www.thestar.com/business/2018/05/09/bank-of-canada-raises-mortgage-qualifying-rate-following-increase-in-big-six-banks-fixed-rates.html

8 Tips For Successful Budgeting

Article retrieved from Refresh Financial.

 

 

 

 

We all know that the best way to ensure we’re living within our means and not accumulating more debt is by budgeting our money. It’s easier said than done, though, isn’t it? There’s a huge difference between writing down a few numbers and actually living by them.

So, with the understanding that sticking to a budget is difficult, we thought we would throw together some tips to increase your rate of success.

Here are 8 tips for successful budgeting:

1. Be Realistic

Prepare for your weaknesses. If you love going out for dinner on Friday nights, don’t expect yourself to cut it out completely. Instead, maybe only go out for dinner every second Friday, or use the Friday dinner as a reward for sticking to your budget. We all have little pleasures that are hard to give up and it’s not going to be any easier just because you’ve cut it out of your budget. Doing so only sets you up for failure. It’s more realistic to cut down on those guilty pleasures and but still allow yourself these simple joys, just less often.

2. Give yourself a day to think about big purchases

Before you run into Best Buy and get suckered into grabbing that new smart TV, promise yourself you will take a day to think it over. Usually, after thinking about it for a day, people realize that this huge expense is unnecessary and not worth jeopardizing their financial future.

3. Plan your menu and shopping before going to the grocery store

Make a plan for what you’re going to eat over the next week or so, and base your shopping list on this plan. Ensure your list is complete before you go to the supermarket and try to stick to your list once you’re there. This way, you will ensure you’re only buying what you need and nothing more.

4. Use an app

Mint is a great app for Canadians to track their spending. It connects to your bank accounts, your loans, and your credit cards and gives you an overall view of where your money is going every week. It enables you to budget and categorizes your spending by extracting your data from your various accounts. You’ll get alerts for upcoming bills as well as finance charges and you’ll be able to see everything in one big picture. You can grab Mint here.

5. Use automatic transfers for saving

Set up automatic transfers on payday from your checking account to your savings account. This way, you probably won’t even see it in your checking account at all, and it’s like it was never there. You’re less likely to spend it if it’s in an account apart from the one you use to make your purchases and pay your bills.

6. Tell someone about your budget

Just the act of talking about being on a budget makes you feel a little bit more accountability than you may have felt before. If you don’t stick to your budget, you’re going to feel as though you owe someone an explanation or perhaps that you’re all talk, no walk. If you have a partner or a spouse, it’s even better because you can both work hard to stick to your budget and hold each other accountable.

7. Ensure your debts are going down

As your debts get paid down, you will free up more money to apply to your budget month to month as you will be paying less in interest and your minimum payment will be smaller. Eliminating your debts altogether is an even better idea, as it will free up all the money you used to pay them down every month.

8. Look at your credit card and bank statements

Do not ignore your statements. It’s easy to just spend until your card gets declined but that’s when you get into the really hot water, incurring overdraft charges, insufficient funds penalties, and fees for going over your credit card limit. Instead, ensure you’re keeping a close eye on your statements so you know where your money stands and how much you have left at all times.

These few simple tips can increase your chances for success with your monthly budget, but we would love to know if you have anymore. What tips would you give to someone looking to be more successful in budgeting? Let us know in the comments!

10 Expensive Habits You Could Drop To Pay Your Debts

 

Article retrieved from Refresh Financial.

 

 

 

Are you struggling to see your debts go down each month? When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it can be tough to find wiggle room in your budget to put towards debt. In your frustration, you might be tempted to believe that it’s futile to even try, but don’t give up! Most of us have habits that rob us of our hard-earned cash. Here’s a list of 10 expensive habits you could drop to pay your debts.

1. Eating Out

– If you live alone, it can seem like a big waste of time and effort to cook for just one person. But cutting down on eating out can drastically change your financial situation. Planning everyday meals can save you around $10 per person per meal. For a family of four that eats out twice a week, that’s $320 a month that could be used towards paying off your debts.

2. Online Shopping

– Shopping online is deadly for anyone who struggles with impulse buying. With the click of a mouse, you can spend hundreds and thousands of dollars and not feel the financial impact for weeks. Cutting down on online shopping can be difficult. Some helpful advice is to give yourself a waiting period before you buy anything.

3. Buying Coffee

– Some specialty coffees can cost upwards of $5 per cup. If you’re buying just one every weekday, that’s $100 a month! You can save money by brewing your coffee at home.

4. Running Air Conditioning

– On a hot summer day, it feels great to walk into a refreshing blast of chilled air. The only problem is that you’re paying an arm and a leg for that cold air. Try not turning on your air conditioner until it reaches a certain level of heat outside, and using alternative methods to cool yourself. Doing this could save you a significant enough amount of money to bring your debts down.

5. Ignoring Your Data Caps

– Whether it’s your mobile data or home internet, ignoring your data caps can lead to overage charges, which are usually astronomical. One strategy against this habit is to install apps that alert you when you’re reaching your data limits. You may also want to consider increasing your data plan in you tend to go over a lot.

6. Making Late Payments

– Making late payments on your bills won’t just hurt your credit score, it’s also terrible for your wallet. Late payments cause accumulated interest and late fees. If you’re not careful, you could end up paying way more than you need to. Ensure that you make all your payments on time. You can use features on your smartphone or utilize an app like Mint, to remind you of payment deadlines.

7. Carrying A Credit Card Balance

– It’s never ideal to carry a balance on your credit card because you have to pay interest on it. The larger the balance, the more you pay. You can eliminate this expense altogether by making sure your card is paid off in full every month.

8. Using ATMs From Other Banks

– If you make frequent use of ATMs from other banks, you can accumulate a decent amount of ATM usage fees.

9. Going To The Movies

– In the age of home entertainment, there is less and less of a reason to spend money on a movie ticket and popcorn. Treating your family to the movies can cost upwards of $150. Prioritize your debts before your entertainment by popping corn at home and picking a movie on Netflix.

10. Not Checking Your Credit Statements

– Sometimes we sign up for things that we stop using down the line, but we forget we’re still paying for them. Cashiers can accidentally charge us twice, or people could find and use your credit card information. You can catch these things by frequently reviewing your statements. You’ll also be able to see the big picture when it comes to your credit spending. This can be a huge motivator in cutting back your expenses.

Paying down your debts should be priority number one when it comes to bettering your credit score and financial situation. Cutting out some of these common spending habits will help you start saving enough to make an impact on the debt load you currently have!

What are some other habits that we can cut back on to save money? Let us know in the comments!

Top 10 Ways Canadians Are Wasting Money Every Month

Article retrieved from Refresh Financial.

 

 

 

Are you wasting money every month? When you’re trying to save, it’s an important question to ask yourself since personal debt among Canadians is growing at an uncomfortable rate. Some of the following hacks might only save you a little, but when combined, they can add up to save you thousands every year. Here are the top 10 ways Canadians are wasting money every month, and what you can do to start saving more effectively!

1. Comparison Shopping

If you’re shopping at the mall, your smartphone is your best friend. You can conveniently price check anything you’re considering buying. So before you take those Ray Bans up to the counter, check Amazon or some other online retailer for a better price! Save some cash, and with shipping speeds these days, you won’t even have to wait long before you can sport those shades.

2. Needless Insurance/Protection/Warranties

Take some time to review the insurance policies you have taken out. Look at the fine print, because the extended warranty you could buy for something might not be worth it if things like the accidental damage aren’t covered. Taking advantage of warranties can also be a difficult process, involving long phone calls and endless paperwork.

3. Pricey Phone/Internet/Cable Plans

According to the CRTC, Canada pays more than any other country when it comes to telecom prices. Just because we pay more than anyone else as a country, doesn’t mean you have to.

If you pay $90/month for a plan that provides 3GB of data, but after looking at your bill, you find that you only use 1 ½ GB that month, see if you can save $10 a month ($120/year) by downgrading to a 2Gb plan. There are many ways you can negotiate better terms on your phone plan, especially if you’ve been with your provider for a while. Even when you’re in the market for a new phone, make sure to wait until you can take advantage of a great deal or promotion.

When it comes to cable, many people are gaining more financial freedom by cutting the cord and focusing on media streaming services instead. Read: How To Get Rid Of Your Cable Bill: Intro to Cord-Cutting.

Remember, if your cable package is costing you anywhere from $50 – $70 a month, that totals to about $600 – $840 a year. That money could be used to pay off debt or going towards a savings account.

4. Buying At Full Price

The average Canadian spends roughly $766 on holiday presents. However, that number is a lot lower for savvy shoppers. Black Friday (the Friday after US Thanksgiving) is the best time to find great deals that can cut your holiday budget in half!

When shopping, always compare prices to other stores and online options. There is nothing more satisfying than finding a great deal!

5. Not Maintaining Home/Car etc.

Make sure to stay on top of all scheduled maintenance, whether it’s your car or your home. It will prevent opening yourself up to extremely high balances to pay off in the future. Change your oil, seal any leaks in your home and use a screen protector on your expensive phone. Remember that the cost a plumber to fix a leaky pipe is significantly cheaper than being on the hook for thousands of dollars’ worth of water damage.

6. Paying For Services You Don’t Use

Are you maximizing that gym membership? What about your old Xbox Live account? If you don’t need it or use it, why are you paying for it? When it comes to the exercising, remember that there are endless options that don’t cost a dime.

7. Auto-Renewals

Sometimes we sign up for 30 day free trials or other subscriptions without realizing there is an auto-renew feature. Stay on top of this by checking your credit card statement and reviewing your subscriptions.

8. Wasted Utilities

Leaving the lights on accidentally for a night won’t break your bank account, but a consistent pattern makes a difference. Leaving the air conditioning or home appliances on while you’re out of the house will add up over time. Be aware of what you leave running. Remember to turn off lights and other electronics if the house is empty, especially considering that the average monthly electricity prices rising as much as 25%  in some parts of the country.

9. Eating Out

Preparing our own food can save us hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on our grocery bill each year. It’s tough to resist the temptation and convenience of that fancy Italian restaurant down the street, but it’s less appetizing when we realize that our $50 evening could’ve gone towards groceries for an entire week.

Read our helpful article for more tips on how you can save money on groceries every month.

10. Banking Fees/Unnecessary Fees

Your bank is there to hold your money, and to help it grow. Yet many Canadians find themselves forking over hundreds of dollars in fees every year. We’ve recently put together a list of six banking fees you can cut out completely.

These are just a few of the ways Canadians are wasting money each year. If you are thinking of saving up, read more tips and relevant articles in the Dime Turner Blog.

What To Do If Your Employer Does Not Offer A Retirement Plan?

Article retrieved from Refresh Financial.

 

 

Canadians who are employed full-time typically have retirement plans built into their employment, and employers will often match your RRSP contributions as a benefit of your employment. However, that’s not always the case with some of us. If you’re working for an employer who does not offer a retirement plan, what are you supposed to do? If you’re wondering how you’re supposed to prepare, keep reading! We’re going to go over what to do if your employer does not offer a retirement plan.

At the end of the day, it’s your responsibility to save for your retirement, but these are some great tips you can utilize!

1. Aim To Save 15% Of What You Make

– Saving 15% of your income over the years will ensure that you have enough to live off once you are no longer working. 15% should be the bare minimum of what you end up saving for retirement.

2. Put Your Savings Into TFSA’s

– A TFSA is a tax-free savings account that Canadians can contribute up to $5500 per year. Try to hit that maximum every year.

3. Make RRSP Contributions

– Once you’ve maxed out your TFSA contributions, start making RRSP contributions each year. These contributions are tax-deductible and can help reduce taxes you may owe.

4. Get Educated On Investing

– Carve out some time for yourself to study how investing works. Speak with a financial advisor to discover the best route to making your money grow before retirement.

5. You Still Have A Canadian Pension Plan

– All working Canadians are eligible for the Canadian Pension Plan, which will help to replace your income once you retire.

It’s always nice to have the matched contributions from your employer, but if you don’t, it’s not the end of the world. There are still many avenues you can take on your own to ensure that your retirement transition is an easy one.

It may seem scary at first, taking that amount of money out of your regular monthly cash flow, but nothing is more valuable than your own peace of mind. Try and create a long-term plan for yourself. Document your plan and seek advice from professionals. If you’re including the steps above, you’re definitely on the right track!

What are your pointers for those who have to save on their own for retirement? Let us know in the comments!

21 Days To Make A Habit: How To Live On A Budget

Article retrieved from Refresh Financial.

 

 

Living on a budget is never fun, and we’d all love to be able to live in a world where we can spend freely without any consequences. But this isn’t reality. Life is expensive, and living beyond your means will lead to disaster. If you’re wondering how to live on a budget, we’ve got good news! According to experts, it only takes 21 days to form a habit. So after a while, healthy financial habits will eventually become second nature to you.

Here are some pointers to help you succeed:

1. Choose A Budget That Works For You

– You need a budget that reflects your income and doesn’t ignore the things that are important to you. You’re on a budget and you may not be able to spend on certain things right away, but they can be a goal of saving money. Making a budget doesn’t mean living on the bare necessities, it just means spacing out your purchases and planning them better.

2. Be Realistic

– Don’t tell yourself you’re going to stop doing costly things you enjoy doing altogether. Instead, cut down on how often you do them.

3. Don’t Be Too Strict

– You don’t want to be miserable on a budget. Allow yourself a treat from time to time to keep your morale up.

4. Reward Yourself

– Plan rewards for different milestones along the way. It’s important to have things to look forward to and motivate you along the way.

5. Set Clear Goals & Keep Them In Your Sights

– Your goals can be anything: a vacation, a new car, renovations, you name it. Use these goals to remind yourself of why you’re living on a budget.

6. Share Your Money Boundaries With Friends And Family

– This will help them to understand that outings with you should be affordable or free places. It’ll help you avoid awkward situations with the people you care about the most.

7. Categorize Your Money

– For instance, you should have a savings account for the money you save, a chequing account for the bills you have to pay and a chequing account for spending money. This way, you avoid spending money that was earned for something else.

8. Set Up Automatic Payments And Transfers

– Setting up automatic payments and transfers into your savings account on payday will ensure your money goes where it needs to before you even have time to think about spending it. It should be as easy as setting up payees and transfers in your online banking account. Not to mention, it will also prevent you from making late payments on important bills!

Utilizing these tips for just 21 days can make living on a budget a relatively painless habit. So start budgeting, get saving and turn your money around now!

What are some of your tips for living on a budget? Let us know in the comments!

How To Know When It’s Time To Sell Your Car

Article retrieved from Refresh Financial.

 

 

People buy and sell cars for many different reasons. You might want a new ride, or maybe you have to upgrade to a larger vehicle to run a home business. Classic wisdom tells us that it’s usually better to hang on to your car for as long as you can. No matter how much you’d love some new wheels, every financial guru across the globe is going to tell you to just run that old beater into the ground. You can hang on to your hard-earned cash for longer if you wait until your car just won’t go anymore before buying a new one. But from a financial perspective, it can sometimes make sense to sell. This blog will cover how to know when it’s time to sell your car.

1. When You Don’t Need It Anymore

– If your car is just collecting dust as it sits in the driveway, it might be time to sell the old thing. Even if you don’t get much for it, having money in your pocket is never a bad thing, plus you won’t have to pay the insurance costs.

2. When It Costs More Than You Can Afford

– Keeping your vehicle fuelled, insured and ready to go can be expensive. If you’re driving something beyond your means, it’s probably time to sell it and start saving your money. A car is not worth going into debt over. Try and find another means of transportation as you live within a stricter budget.

3. When The Repairs Exceed The Value Of The Vehicle

– If the cost to keep your car on the road and in good driving shape is more than the value of the vehicle, it’s probably time to sell. You might only be able to sell it for parts, but at least you can salvage a few bucks before you shop for a new one.

4. When There Are Cheaper Methods Of Transportation

– If you’re serious about bettering your financial situation, finding cheaper ways to commute can save you a ton. Can you walk, bike or take public transit to work every day? You’ll save on gas, insurance and maintenance costs. You can even use this extra saved cash to put towards any unwanted debt in your life!

If your situation isn’t one of the four listed, and you’re not in an emergency, it’s probably best to hang on to your current vehicle. It might not be the most glamorous vehicle or the most exciting to drive, but you’ll be making the best decision for you and your finances.

What are some of the reasons you’ve sold a car before? Let us know in the comments!

Borrowed Down Payment? Yes we can!

Borrowed Down Payment Program

Did you know that it is still possible to borrow your down payment for your mortgage?!

Many folks think that this product is no longer available, however it is indeed! It is often misconstrued with another product: the 100% Financing Product, which is no longer available.

The key to the Borrowed Down Payment Product is that the lender must include the funds that were borrowed as a liability, as part of your application.

                                                                      For instance:

You borrow $12,500.00 towards your purchase of a $250,000.00

home purchase. The loan amount of $12,500.00 must be part of the

liabilities on your application: if revolving credit then you must input

a repayment amount of 3% of the $12,500 therefore $375 per month.

 

 

Although details vary from one lender to another, it may well be worth your while to inquire with the Welch & Co Team about this product! The most important items in order to qualify for this product are to have good credit, and to have room to add the additional debt to your list of existing debts!

Key Features of the Product:

Property related

  • 5-10% of the purchase price can be borrowed.
  • High ratio insurance premium is slightly higher at 4.5%.
  • >$75,000 <$500,000 purchase price
  • 1-2 unit homes maximum.

Purchaser related

  • No previous bankruptcies or consumer proposals.
  • Credit profile strong (>650 minimum).
  • Must have minimum two active trades for minimum two years.
  • Source of borrowed funds can be personal loans, lines of credit, credit cards, gifts from non-immediate family members.
  • Non-residing co-borrowers okay but no guarantors permitted.
  • Ratios of income to debt same as normal.
  • Borrower must be able to show that they have the ability to cover at a minimum the closing costs (1.5% of the purchase price)

 

 

Call us today to see if you might qualify for the Borrowed Down Payment Product at 613-546-2989!

Rate hike again?!!

 

If you currently have a variable rate mortgage:

Variable rate mortgages are normally sold in 3 or 5 year terms – the standard for 5 year terms over the last 5 years have been offered at Prime minus a certain percentage.

Example of what the rate increase represents for you:

For instance, if you have a mortgage at a rate of prime minus .50%.

Your rate yesterday would have been 3.20% – .50% = 2.70%.

Your rate today would be 3.45% – .50% = 2.95%.


Does this mean that it is time to convert to a fixed rate?!?

Historically speaking, variable rate mortgages have always outperformed fixed rate mortgages, so from this perspective, the answer is:  “No”.

Furthermore, converting to a fixed rate would entail a mortgage rate of approximately 3.49-3.59%, this means that the answer is still : “No”. Your variable rate mortgage remains much lower than a fixed rate, and theoretically could handle another two quarter percent rate hikes before reaching that rate.


  The Ultimate Deciding Factor:

 

If you cannot sleep at night because you are worrying about the possibility of the prime rate increasing again

and thereby affecting your mortgage rate / payment:

you should convert to a fixed rate!

 

N.B. One error in this article to be noted: TD Bank has set its prime rate at 3.60% rather than 3.45%.

 

 

How will the upcoming mortgages changes affect you?

You may have heard about the upcoming mortgage rule changes taking effect January 1st, but do you know how these may affect you?

 

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) issued some new guideline changes for the mortgage industry. The changes will go into effect on January 1, 2018, and will require mortgage applicants who need a mortgage representing less than 80% of it’s current market value (i.e. if home is worth $100,000, then your mortgage is < $ 80,000) to qualify at the Bank of Canada’s five-year benchmark rate (presently 4.99% subject to change) or the lender’s five year fixed term mortgage interest rate +2%, whichever is greater.

 

Here’s an example of the impact the new qualifying rate will have on the maximum mortgage proceeds and home purchase price. Amounts are based upon a combined Canadian family income of $75,000, 5-year closed term mortgage at a fixed> rate of 3.39%, 25-year amortization, $100,000 available for down payment and $700 in other monthly debt obligations:

 

Up to December 31, 2017 After January 1, 2018
5 Year fixed Rate 3.39% 3.39%
Qualifying rate 3.39% 5.39%
Maximum Mortgage Amount $400,000 $325,000
Down Payment $100,000 $100,000
Maximum Home Purchase Price $500,000 $425,000

 

As you can see, these changes will affect the household that wants to purchase a new home, but they also will apply to anyone that applies for the refinancing of their home as well, for debt consolidation or any other reason!

 

In addition to this, we envision that changes will occur with regard to the tactics that lenders use for their mortgage renewals as well… Although the new rules stipulate that if you renew with your current lender, these new rules will not be applied to you, we surmise that they will most definitely affect you.

 

Think of it this way: currently, the Welch & Co Team offers all of our clients free reviews of their renewal offer with their current lender. This is in order to ensure that your current lender is actually offering you a competitive rate in the market place. Lenders are well aware that complacency and busy schedules mean that most households will simply sign the renewal offer from their existing lender. Let’s face it: this is the easiest route!

 

Right now, if your offer is not competitive, the Welch & Co Team can seek another lender with a more competitive product that offers the right fit for you and your needs. This helps to ensure that lenders make an attempt to remain competitive on rate – keeping them honest!

 

However, after January 1, 2018, knowing that their existing mortgage holders will now face these tougher rules if they want to go elsewhere at maturity, we surmise that the renewal offers will no longer be offered at competitive rates! Knowing that the easiest route for clients is to just sign their renewal offer from their existing lender without seeking better options. The incentive to offer competitive rates is dramatically reduced…The Welch & Co Team wants to ensure you are renewing to the best possible product to suit your financial needs.

 

So what can you do about it?

 

The one thing that you should NOT do, is simply sign your existing renewal offer in fear of not being able to qualify elsewhere! Remember that we are here to assist you and guide you through these mortgage changes, and we have a vast number of lenders from whom we can choose in order to ensure that you are getting what is best for YOU!

 

Take the time, give the Welch & Co Team a call, let’s talk, and see how we can help!:)

Bank of Canada Increases Overnight Rate

Unfortunately, none of us has crystal ball in order to determine what the future holds… or in this case, whether or not the Bank of Canada will raise it’s overnight rate (which in turn will increase the Bank of Canada prime rate).

 

There has been much media rumbling about the possibility, on July 12, 2017, of the Bank of Canada increasing their overnight target rate.

 

The last two changes that the Bank of Canada made were both reductions in the overnight rate, so it has been a very long time since any increases have been made to the prime rate. (the exception being that TDCT Bank increased their prime rate to 2.85% from 2.70% last quarter of 2016).

Let’s remember the ABC’s or the basics when it comes to variable rates:

 

i) The Bank of Canada meets eight times per annum, usually only four of these meetings will reflect changes to the overnight lending rate

 

ii) When the Bank of Canada does indeed increase it’s overnight lending rate, it is usually to a maximum of .25%

 

iii) Historically speaking, the variable rate has ALWAYS outperformed the fixed rates

 

iv) The lenders that we use for our variable clients all have the right to conversion to a fixed rate at no cost to the client

 

v) The last two changes to the overnight target rate have been decreases and have therefore meant a decrease in the Bank Prime rate and thus additional savings for our variable rate clients. 

 

Furthermore, all five year fixed rates have increased of late – going anywhere between 2.64%-2.99%.

 

Our variable rate clients have benefited from rates of anywhere between prime minus .70 (currently 2.00%) to prime minus .35% (currently 2.35%) which are both far better than what is currently being offered on the fixed rate front.

 

Rather than locking/ converting into a fixed rate, have you considered the possibility of maintaining your current variable rate, but increasing your payment?

 

One of our suggestions, during our free annual reviews offered to clients, and no matter what kind of rate you have (fixed or variable), is to increase your payments in order to reflect whatever the current 5 year fixed rate is being offered by lenders.

 

Let’s take the example of a $300,000.00 mortgage with a 25 year amortization and a prime minus .65% (currently 2.05% rate). Your monthly payments would be at a minimum $1,277.60. In order to match a 2.99% rate, your payment would need to be $ 1,418.20 ($140.60 extra).

 

By applying our strategy, you would save over $10,251.91 in interest and would shave off 3 years on your amortization!

 

This, rather than locking in to a fixed rate, would be our recommendation with the current rumblings of the Bank of Canada increasing it’s rates!

 

General Information – Factors that Affect: Variable Mortgage Rates

 

The Bank of Canada is responsible for changes to variable mortgage rates because they determine the target overnight lending rate.

 

Variable Mortgage Rate: fluctuate monthly and is based on the mortgage lender’s prime rate.

Variable Rates and the Overnight Rate

 

The overnight rate changes the cost of lending/borrowing short-term funds and therefore influences the Prime Rate. Since variable mortgage rates are linked to prime rates, when prime rates go up, so will your variable mortgage rate and monthly payments.

 

Overnight Rate: the interest rate which large banks borrow and lend one-day funds amongst themselves. It is also known as the key interest rate, or the key policy rate.

 

Prime +/-

 

Variable mortgage rates are advertised as Prime plus or minus X%, for example Prime –0.60%, which means that the interest rate you pay is directly related to the Prime Rate, and will fluctuate whenever this changes. Link to Prime Rates page for all of the banks.

 

Example

 

Let’s say the current overnight rate is 0.5% and the major banks prime rate is 2.50%, and at that time the variable mortgage rate is – 0.50% (thus 2.00%).

 


If the Bank of Canada increases the overnight rate from 0.5% to 0.75% (an increase of 0.25%), the banks will likely follow suit and increase their prime rate by the same 0.25% to 2.75%. Your variable mortgage rate will thus also change due to this increase in the prime rate, making your new variable mortgage rate 2.75% – 0.50% = 2.25%.

 

How Much Does a Change in Prime Effect my Mortgage?

 

To put this in perspective, let’s use the above rate change example on a $250,000 mortgage amortized over 25 years. An increase of 0.5% would result in your monthly payments increasing by $30.40/month. Although this is not a massive increase, you can imagine the effects if rates increase by 2 or 3%.

Time to get over our squeamishness about reverse mortgages

By Rob Carrick, June 27 2017.

 

There’s still one notable example of the old Canadian conservatism with money.

 

It’s the reluctance of retired people to crack open the equity they have in their homes and spend the money. Strong growth in demand for reverse mortgages suggests this won’t last.

 

Our less cautious attitude to money can be seen in ever-rising household debt. We’re also buying houses at prices that are way out of sync with our incomes, and swapping out bonds and GICs in our investment portfolios for riskier but higher-yielding dividend stocks. Somehow, using the equity in your home for your retirement is resisting this erosion of the old ways with money.

 

It’s not as though home equity is sacred. Borrowing via home equity lines of credit (secured by your home equity) is so common these days that the federal Financial Consumer Agency of Canada recently issued a warning how they’re contributing to rising household debt levels. Where people have been cautious in the past is in unlocking home equity later in life through reverse mortgages.

 

The value of new business generated at reverse mortgage provider HomEquity Bank last year was $459-million, a fairly modest amount that helps explain why no one is challenging HomEquity in this sector. But the company’s smallish base of business is generating big growth. Reverse mortgage sales rose 26 per cent in 2016, and jumped 35 per cent in the first five months of this year compared with the same period a year ago.

 

Three trends suggest more use of reverse mortgages – strong price increases over the past decade in many housing markets, rising debt levels and an unwillingness to compromise our lifestyles to save more.

 

With more people retiring with debts, HomEquity finds that 30 per cent to 35 per cent of its business is accounted for by people paying off mortgages, lines of credit and credit cards. “They’ve retired and they’ve still got debt that’s costing them cash flow,” HomEquity CEO Steven Ranson said in a recent interview. “It’s like, oh my gosh, I can’t really afford this debt.”

 

Mr. Ranson said that 20 per cent of HomEquity’s business comes from people with homes valued at $3-million or more. “They’re not really keen to lower their lifestyle expectations, and they burn through the money they have pretty quickly.”

 

Soaring home equity helps sell the reverse mortgage as a solution for people 55 and older who need money. In fact, there’s a trendy new term for exploiting the value in your home – “equity release.”

 

The conservative way to release equity from your home is to sell it, downsize to something less expensive and pocket the difference. But Mr. Ranson said a lot of seniors want to stay in their homes. This leaves them two options – the home equity line of credit, or HELOC, and the reverse mortgage.

 

A HELOC is probably the easiest way to dip into the equity in your home, but you have to keep up with the interest payments. With a reverse mortgage, you can borrow up to 55 per cent of your equity. Interest is charged on your reverse mortgage balance at rates that are a little over double those for a regular mortgage, and no monthly payments are required. The debt (principal and accumulated interest payments) is repaid when you sell your house or die.

 

The danger with a reverse mortgage is that equity is used for short-term purposes and thus not available in the future to downsize or cover long-term health-care costs. On the other hand, home equity is the No. 1 financial asset in many households. Tapping into this equity can make sense in some cases.

 

For this reason, it’s time to take a fresh look at the reverse mortgage and get over the common view that it’s a last resort or short-sighted measure. But you have to get the details right if you use a reverse mortgage. Don’t dip into your home equity just because it’s there. You might need it later to buy a condo or smaller home, to move into a retirement home, or to pay for long-term care.

 

If a reverse mortgage seems to make sense, get a second opinion from an accredited financial planner. The equity in your home is a terrible thing to waste.

 

Originally posted by The Globe and Mail.

4 Money Habits That Separate Building Wealth From Just Making a Living

By Deep Patel, June 16 2017.

 

When it comes to getting rich, many of us assume it means getting an upscale job with a hefty paycheck. We daydream about how we’ll drive a cool car or treat ourselves to fancy dinners out. After all, the more money you earn, the wealthier you are, and then you can do whatever you want, right?

 

Not quite. Just as important as a well-paying job are the habits that you build when it comes to your budget and finances. How do you spend your money? How much do you save? Are you investing in yourself and in your future? And there are even bigger considerations, like how well do you connect with your community and what kind of impact you are making on those around you.

 

There are a handful of small but powerful things wealthy people do that set them apart from those who are struggling financially. Start cultivating these habits and you’ll get a sense of what real financial success and independence feel like, as well as what it’s like to make a difference.

 

1. Create multiple streams of income.

It’s difficult to become financially independent on one income. If you lose your job you’ll be frantically looking for work while dipping heavily into savings to stay afloat — or, worse yet, you’ll be going into debt to pay your bills.

 

Wealthy people focus on cultivating multiple streams of income so they’ll always have something to fall back on during lean times. During boom times, your income will balloon to pad your savings and fund your investments.

 

You can build passive income, such as from rental properties, stock dividends or interest from a high-yield bank account. A side hustle is a great way to boost your income while developing a passion or a hobby.

 

A side hustle could be a business you start on the side, freelancing in an area of expertise or marketing your skills. Can you teach yoga? Design websites? You can work a part-time job during off hours, or even rent out a room in your home.

 

The best kind of side hustle is something you enjoy doing, and it’s even better if you can create synergy between your different income threads, so they feed into your overarching goals and dreams. If you’re able to tap into an area you are passionate about, you’ll be determined to persist until you’re successful.

 

 

2. Learn to live on less than you make.

Living beneath your means is the key to creating and maintaining wealth, not to mention avoiding debt. Millionaires know spending less than you earn creates opportunity; you can invest that money, save it or donate it to a cause or charity you care about. Ideally, you can do all three.

 

Jim Rohn, entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, uses the 70/30 rule as a blueprint for how much to spend, save, invest and donate. For most people, the difficulty is learning to live on 70 percent of their income after taxes, including spending for all necessities and luxuries. The remaining 30 percent is then broken into 10 percent allocations for investments, savings and charity.

 

Living on less than you make requires you to get your spending under control and come up with a budget that you stick to. You’ll need to learn to be more frugal and to really make your money stretch. It may mean that you drive a used economy car, eat at home more often or ditch extravagant purchases.

 

It definitely means that you should stop comparing yourself to others. According to Rohn, “Poor people spend their money and save what’s left. Rich people save their money and spend what’s left.”

 

When you spend, think about whether this something you really need, or something you just really want.

 

 

3. Make your money work for you.

The wealthy invest in themselves. They know the key to making their money work for them consistently over the long haul is creating an investment plan to create wealth. The plan should include regular payments into a mutual fund, a trading account and retirement accounts.

 

Accruing wealth also requires making capital investments. This is the money you’ll invest in creating an enterprise, such as developing a business, manufacturing a product, marketing and selling your services or investing in other ventures.

 

This will require you to take calculated risks while taking into account your long-term financial security. Walking this line require financial savvy. Educate yourself on financial matters. Understand the ins and outs of your investment plan and make adjustments as needed.

 

In addition to your investment plan, you should be tucking away at least 10 percent of your paycheck into “rainy day” savings. It’s easiest if you have it automatically deducted from your paycheck. This money is for unexpected expenses and to get you through tough times.

 

Savings protect your investments. It will keep you from going into debt or needing to pull money from your investments, which in turn could cripple your multiple income sources.

 

 

 

4. Give back.

It may seem counterintuitive to give generously of your time and money, but this is also an important investment. Giving to others and being of service to those who need it most helps you connect with your community and be a part of something bigger than yourself: the greater good.

 

This is about growing wealth not just in your bank accounts, but in your whole community, which benefits everyone. When you volunteer your time or make donations to causes or issues that your care deeply about, it gives you a sense of joy and purpose.

 

The idea is to not just be a go-getter, but a go-giver — someone who is focused on others more than themselves. Yes, it’s important to stay focused on your goals and be passionate about your dreams. But finding a way to also add value to the lives of other people will benefit you in the long run as well.

 

Truly wealthy people, the ones who impact society and change our world views, understand that the more you give, the more those good feelings and vibes come back to you.

 

 

 

Article originally published by Entrepreneur Magazine.

Household debt, housing market has become riskier

By Steve Randall, June 9 2017

 

The Bank of Canada has reported its Financial System Review and warned that household debt and the housing market have both increased in vulnerability over the last 6 months.

 

Governor Stephen Poloz said that “the financial system remains resilient, and macroeconomic conditions continue to improve.”

Household debt increases have been driven by mortgage lending especially in Toronto and Vancouver. While the bank says that credit quality has improved in the insured mortgage market, it also says the uninsured mortgage market is increasing with some mortgages showing “risky characteristics.”

 

For the housing market, Governor Poloz said that macroprudential and housing policy measures are expected to mitigate the risk from rising house prices.

 

The two main risks highlighted in the review include an externally-generated recession, which would include a sharp decline in home prices along with rising unemployment impeding homeowners’ ability to service their mortgage debt.

 

If this were to occur, the BoC report says it would have a severe impact, but it says there is “probably a low risk” of this scenario occurring.

 

The other major risk is house price corrections in Toronto, Vancouver, and their surrounding areas. While this risk has a higher probability, it would have a less severe impact on the economy, the BoC says.

 

Article originally posted by Mortgage Broker News.

Seniors Use of Reverse Mortgages Increasing!

HomEquity Bank’s release of its updated figures pointed at record-breaking performance over the first five months of 2017, mainly powered by the increasing number of seniors taking on reverse mortgages.

The lone provider of the CHIP Reverse Mortgage product saw a new high of $60M in its reverse mortgage originations last month, representing a year-to-date increase of 35 per cent compared with the same period a year ago.

“Canadian seniors are releasing the equity they’ve built in their homes, transforming it from passive to active,” HomEquity Bank president and CEO Steven Ranson said.

“We’ve seen a shift in mindset: there’s a broader understanding that home equity – which is often the largest single asset for Canadians – can be easily unlocked,” Ranson noted, adding that this was a natural consequence of seniors (who are now living longer and more active lives) being able to take advantage of the steady appreciation of Canadian residential real estate.

“Historically, the average age of our clients is 72,” the bank exec explained. “Working together with financial planners and mortgage brokers, we’re finding that people incorporate equity release into their financial outlook at an earlier age.”

More and more Canadians aged over 55 are also contributing to the housing or educational dreams of their children (and even grandchildren) as the “bank of mum and dad,” Ranson added.

by Ephraim Vecina14 Jun 2017

A strong morning routine can do wonders for the rest of your day!

30 Morning Routines That Can Make You Motivated and Productive for a Whole Day

Does this sound familiar to you? I’m sure you’ve had mornings like this. And as you know, they’re the worst possible way to start the day.

Your Morning Routine Determines the Rest of Your Day

In 2016, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Ohio State University studied call center staff working for an insurance company.1

They specifically looked at the mood of the call center staff throughout their working day. The three-week study discovered something interesting. Namely, staff who started the day in a bad mood, usually ended the day in a bad mood too. (This was despite them receiving calls from positive customers throughout the day.)

Staff who started their day calm or happy – finished their working day in the same upbeat emotional state. Furthermore, the study found that staff with low moods had low productivity. Staff with elevated moods demonstrated high productivity.

So, as you can see from the above revelations, it’s vital that you start your day well.

Transform Your Life with These 30 Morning Routines

If you’re prone to starting off your day in a gloomy and stressed state, then you’ll be sure to benefit from the suggestions below.

1. Wake up on time.

Waking up on time (or even early) is critical to starting your day positively. It will give you space and time to complete your morning routines. And you won’t need to worry about rushing around your home.

2. Open your curtains.

One of the first things you should do upon rising is to open your bedroom curtains. I do this every morning, and I’ve found it to be a fantastic way to gradually wake up from my slumber. Personally, I open the curtains, and then sit on the end of the bed for a few minutes. This allows me to enjoy the morning light streaming through my window.

3. Make your bed.

Remember your student days? Making your bed was probably the last thing you thought about when you were stumbling out of it in the morning. This habit may be okay for students, but if you want to accelerate your motivation and productivity – you should definitely make your bed. It takes less than a minute, and you’ll be rewarded by a tidy room, and a feeling of self-satisfaction.

4. Enjoy a refreshing shower.

I’m always amazed when people tell me that they didn’t have time to shower in the morning. Not only does that sound unhygienic, but it also suggests that these people haven’t learned to set a daily morning routine. A shower only takes 10 minutes or so, and it’s a great way to clean your body, and the perfect way to wake up.

5. Drink a freshly-blended smoothie.

Every morning, I enjoy a freshly-blended, fruit-based smoothie. This consists of organic milk and a small portion of fruit such as bananas, mangoes and strawberries. It’s a superb way to kick-start your day. Not only does it taste great, but it’s also full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. I used to drink tea first thing in a morning, but now, I find that smoothies are far more satisfying.

6. Take a 10-minute walk in the morning sunshine.

If you have a dog, then this will be an easy task for you. However, even if you don’t own a dog, why not try walking for 10 minutes outside every morning? If you’re lucky enough to live close to a park, then you could walk around the park before going to work. Fresh air and exercise are an invigorating combination.

7. Check your to-do list.

Organized people tend to have to-do lists. It helps them keep track of what needs doing at home, work and beyond. To-do lists can be paper-based, or you can use one of the many free apps that are available. The morning time is perfect for checking your to-do list, and prioritizing items for the day. You may also find that you can tick off some items that you completed the previous day.

8. Listen to some upbeat music.

Music is a powerful mood changer. If you’re not a typical morning person, then you can help to boost your physical and emotional state by listening to upbeat music. I won’t suggest specific artists, but simply try to choose music that makes you feel happy and lively. You could listen to this music while you shower, when you’re in your kitchen, or perhaps when you’re commuting to work.

9. Complete a mini workout.

If you have a home gym, then spend a few minutes each morning working out. This will rapidly wake you up, and increase your mental well-being. If you don’t have a home gym, you can still do a mini workout. For example, try doing sets of push-ups and sit-ups.

10. Review your goals.

Early morning can be an excellent time for contemplation. While you may want to think about trivial things, successful people often use this time to review their personal goals. You can do the same. For instance, if one of your goals is to start your own business, then use the morning time to come up with ideas to help move you towards this goal.

11. Pack some healthy snacks to take to work.

You may have started the day with a healthy breakfast, but have you noticed how easy it is for our diets to go downhill from there! As soon as we arrive at college or work, we begin looking for the coffee. Not long after that, we get peckish, and start seeking out cakes, biscuits and chocolate. Luckily, with a bit of preparation, you can avoid this situation. The trick is to pack into your bag some healthy snacks such as apples, bananas and nuts. These healthy treats will happily keep you going until lunchtime.

12. Declutter part of your home.

Unless your home is currently spotless and has nothing out of place, then you could spend a few minutes each morning decluttering an area of your home. Take your hallway, for example. This may have shoes and bags that could be tidied away in just a few minutes.

13. Meditate for 5 minutes.

Many high achievers say that they mediate each morning. This gives them balance and poise, before beginning their working day. Have you thought about trying meditation? Although there are different forms of meditation, the simplest method is to just close your eyes… control your breathing… and let your thoughts settle. And like most things in life, the more you practice meditation, the easier it will become for you.

14. Stretch your body.

You may have woken up with a stiff neck, or perhaps a pain in your back. From experience, it seems that lying down for several hours can leave your body in need of a good stretch. I’m 2.10 meters tall (yes, really!), so it’s not uncommon for me to have some discomfort when I first wake up. However, I’ve learned that stretching for just a few minutes offers quick pain relief, improved posture and enhanced energy levels.

15. Read a motivational quote.

If you want to boost your productivity, then make a habit of reading a motivational quote each morning. To get you in the mood for adopting this behavior, I’ve picked out one of my favorite quotes for you:

“Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.” – Og Mandino

16. Drink a glass of water.

Hydration is essential. Especially after hours of sleeping. I love to drink a glass of pure, filtered water every morning. It immediately makes me feel better, more energised and… less thirsty! Even if you’re a caffeine addict, try drinking a glass of water before you start on the hard stuff.

17. Create something.

Like many of the suggestions I’m listing, this idea makes productive use of your morning time. Let’s say that you are a budding singer-songwriter. You’re not famous yet – but you want to be! Before heading off to do your current job, you could spend 20 minutes or so writing lyrics for a new song. Do this everyday for a week, and you’ll probably have enough lyrics for a whole album. Other ideas for creating something, include: putting together a bouquet of flowers, working on your novel, and adding the finishing touches to your latest artwork.

18. Write down things you’re grateful for.

It’s all too easy to take things for granted. We need to constantly remind ourselves of things in our life that we’re grateful for. A beneficial and rewarding morning practice is to write a list of things that you’re currently grateful for. These could be things such as your partner, your job, and your health. Some people like to write a list each morning that includes everything they were grateful for from the previous day. Over time, you can develop an attitude of gratitude.

19. Play with your pets.

Do you love animals? Most of us do, for sure. If you’re fortunate enough to have a pet, then the morning is the perfect time to have some fun with them. For instance, if you have a dog, they’re sure to like playing with a ball or Frisbee first thing in the morning. They’ll have fun, and you will too.

20. Listen to an inspiring podcast.

Podcasts are a great way to listen to inspiring and motivating speakers. As they’re audio only, you can listen to them while making your breakfast – or even while you’re driving your car. Just imagine hearing expert tips on business, success and well-being every morning. Before long, this precious wisdom is bound to sink into your consciousness.

21. Plan your day.

Self-help guru Alan Lakein famously said: “Failing to plan, is planning to fail.”

Wise words indeed. To be successful in life, you must learn how to make plans and set goals. You should have long-term plans, medium-term plans and… daily plans. That’s right. You can use a few minutes each morning to plan the day ahead. It’s a simple technique that offers a surprising boost to your daily productivity.

22. Learn something new.

Each morning is the start of a new day. Why not tap into this fresh energy, by learning something new every morning. This could be something like: a few words of a new language, a new guitar chord, or some facts related to your favorite basketball team.

23. Enjoy the quietness of the morning.

If you can get up in the morning before the majority of other people, you’ll be rewarded with peace and quietness. You can make use of this special time by perhaps reading a book, or sitting in your garden. Personally, I love to walk my dog in the early morning, as the streets are empty – and my dog has a whole park to itself!

24. Think of a way to help someone later in the day.

Today’s society seems riddled with a me, me, me mentality. I’m sure you know what I mean. People talking endlessly about themselves – and others taking hundreds of selfies every day. It’s important not to get caught in this self-centered trend. One way to do this, is to take a few minutes each morning to think of ways that you can help other people later in the day. To give you an example, you may have a colleague who has a sweet tooth. You could decide to take in some chocolates to work that you could share with this individual.

25. Go for a swim.

I’ll be honest, this idea may not be for you. If you’re not a swimmer, then please move on to the next suggestion. However, if you do like to swim, and there is a swimming pool local to you, then this is a wonderful way to start your day. Swimming pools are usually quiet in the morning, so you’re likely to have loads of space for serious swimming – or simply having fun!

26. Meet some friends for breakfast.

Until I was in my 20s, I’d never thought about going out for breakfast with friends. However, I was fortunate to be introduced to this idea by a couple of American friends who were staying with me in London. I distinctively remember them saying, “Where shall we go for breakfast?” I was taken aback, because I had always just had breakfast at home. I’m glad they persuaded me, though, as I loved having breakfast with them in a local café. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I now regularly meet friends for breakfast. If you haven’t tried it before – give it a go!

27. Check yourself in the mirror.

I’ve heard people say that they don’t like to look in the mirror in the morning – because they’re afraid of what they might see! I’m guessing that they probably look miserable and tired first thing in the morning, and want to avoid been reminded of this. It’s understandable, but I think mirrors are a great tool to use in the morning. Instead of being afraid of them, use them to check your appearance. You can quickly check your hair and makeup (for example). But more importantly, you can ensure that you’re looking alert, confident and purposeful.

28. Follow Steve Jobs’ advice.

In a speech he gave at Stanford University in 2005, Steve Jobs revealed that he started each day by asking the following question:

“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”

He went on to say that, if the answer to the question was “no” for several days – then this told him that he needed to make changes in his life.

29. Leave plenty of time for your commute.

Rushing to work is the cause of so much stress and anxiety. One of the problems, is that most people seem to leave a set amount of time for their commute – but don’t allow for any delays. For example, if someone has a 30-minute drive to work, they probably just allow 30 minutes each morning. However, as soon as there is a broken down vehicle or roadworks, then their schedule is immediately disrupted. The resolution is simple: always allow more time than you need.

30. Kiss your loved ones before you leave the house.

Don’t be in so much of a hurry in the morning that you forget the most valuable people in your life. Whether it’s your partner or your children, be sure to hug and kiss them before heading out the door. Relationships are so important – be certain to nurture yours.

Hopefully, the above list will give you plenty of food for thought. I recommend that you pick out a handful of the above suggestions, and make them a part of your daily routine. By doing this, you’ll find that your days start happier and stronger. You’ll also discover that you’re more motivated and productive than ever before.

Preventing Rain Damage to Your Home

Rain damage can be one of the costliest repairs to a home due to its devastating effect on foundations and contribution to mold development. Below are a few steps to protect your property from heavy rain damage and to ensure the safety of your home and family.

 

Ensure good drainage. The rooftop is the primary structure that keeps rainwater from entering a home. Check all aspects of the rooftop and ensure its construction is not damaged in any way. A tiny opening in the rooftop is enough space to permit leakage. Additionally, ensure all gutters are cleaned regularly, direct downspouts away from the house, and ideally, the slope of your yard should be directed away from the foundation to ensure rainwater is directed away from the home and not into the foundation.

 

Check your chimney and sump pump annually. Two vital areas that can allow rain damage if they fail are a home’s chimney and sump pump. Not only should a sump pump be inspected by a professional annually, it should be checked visually and operationally more often during long periods of heavy rain or more extraordinary climates, like hurricane seasons. Chimneys should also be checked to ensure bricks have no gaps and are tightly sealed. Additionally, bricks should be waterproofed to ensure water and moisture is not absorb from the outside. Finally, consider installing a chimney cap prior to the stormy season to prevent rainwater from coming in at all.

 

Fix water leaks. Plumbing leaks can be a potential catastrophe if left unresolved. It’s important to address these issues promptly by repairing any noticeably leaking pipes, checking for dark spots adjacent to pipes or on ceilings, repairing or replacing any cracked caulking, and inspecting the roof for any missing, loose or broken shingles. Poles, trees and other large objects can also fall on a house during heavy rain; therefore, cut off branches that are dangerously close to a home’s rooftop. Additionally, raise downward sloping areas to ensure heavy rain water doesn’t collect near the foundation and weaken it.

 

Be aware of potential health hazards. If your home does suffer from water damage caused by internal leaks, heavy rain or other inherent problems, it is important to hire a water damage restoration company as soon as possible. Moisture promotes the growth of mold and other dangerous organisms, especially in already-damp climates, which increases the risk for serious health problems. Exposure to these types of water-related growths can also aggravate symptoms for allergy and asthma patients and may compound these problems in children, the elderly, and people with poor immune systems.

 

 

 

 

 

Article originally posted by 2-10

How to Prepare Your Home for the Spring Season

Spring is right around the corner, and for most home owners it’s an exciting time to get your home ready. In the winter time, many portions of your home are neglected or aren’t used as often because of home owners staying inside their homes. From the interiors of your home to the exterior, getting your home ready for spring will ensure you’ll be ready to enjoy the warmer weather once it hits. Space out your maintenance tips and by time spring is here, you will be able to enjoy the season!

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TD Bank Scandal Emphasizes the Need for a Financial Consumer Code

The major revelations from employees of the TD Bank Group underscored the pressing need for a financial consumer code in Canada, according to a consumer interest organization.

 

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre noted that the controversial sales practices, as revealed to CBC News earlier this week, “present a bit of a grey area” that might not fall under the jurisdiction of current financial regulators.

 

In the CBC News exposé, hundreds of current and former TD Bank employees admitted to breaking the law when attempting to meet unrealistic sales targets, all at the expense of their clients. The whistleblowers told of a maximum-pressure environment that they described as “insane,” “poisoned,” and “stress inducing,” with “zero focus on ethics.”

 

Among the alleged unsavory practices included the signing up of clients for certain financial products and services without their consent.

 

“We think that the proposed financial consumer code will provide a clear set of rules of the road, rules of engagement, between the banks and consumers,” PIAC research analyst Jonathan Bishop said, adding that such a code will have to be enforced by an independent organization.

 

“Banks will have the opportunity to present evidence to an arbitrator about what they’ve done, and their tactics, as well as consumers have the opportunity to present their concerns and their views,” Bishop explained.

 

In the wake of the disclosures, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada announced on Wednesday (March 15) that it will be launching a review of the major banks’ business practices next month.

 

FCAC commissioner Lucie Tedesco issued a statement reminding lenders of their obligations to secure prior consent before increasing lines of credit and providing customers with new products.

 

“Financial institutions’ compliance with these rules is non-discretionary and the message must be disseminated from the boards of directors on down to customer-facing staff,” Tedesco said. “Through the industry review we are announcing today, we will examine financial institutions’ business practices in relation to express consent and disclosure, including the identification of any factors that may be contributing to non-compliance.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Article originally posted  by Mortgage Broker News

Radon: What You Need to Know

What is Radon?

Radon Testing Kingston

  • Radon is a radioactive gas found in many homes across Canada. It is created naturally as the uranium
    in the ground breaks down.
  • Radon is invisible; you can’t see it, smell it, or taste it.
  • Radon can seep into your home through cracks in the foundation, pipe openings, and other places where the house is open to the ground.
  • In confined spaces like a house, radon can build up to high levels and over time become a health risk.
  • The current Canadian guideline for Radon is 200 becquerels per cubic meter (200Bq/m3

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8 Things to Consider When Buying a New Home

Buying a new home is one of the most daunting experiences; yet it is one of the biggest milestones in life. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by this huge life decision and substantial financial investment. It is a significant commitment and requires careful planning and cautious choices. Planning is vital to the process, and while it will help you set your boundaries, it will also show you where you need to be flexible as you wade through the market.

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Mortgage Insurance Premium Hike for 2017

If you are planning to buy a home this year and have less than 20% down payment, you may want to do so prior to March 17th. The Mortgage Insurance suppliers have announced their rates are going up because of recent government changes introduced Jan 1st that effectively increase the cost of offering the insurance product.

 

So take advantage of what typically is a slower real estate market in the winter months and save yourself some money.

 

What does this mean for you?

 

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How to Recover from Holiday Debt

Hands up if you spent more than you wanted to this past holiday. From gifts to entertaining to travel, it’s easy to get swept up in the holiday spirit and dole out more cash than you first intended to. Now the credit card bills have started to arrive and you may be wondering where the extra money will come from? Often called the Holiday Hangover, lingering debt from this most wonderful time of the year can be a major financial burden all year long. Here are tips to get rid of it fast.

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8 Christmas Eve Traditions

I was talking to a friend of mine this morning whose children are grown and out on their own. My question had to do with whether or not to keep doing one of our annual holiday traditions when it seemed my kids were being pulled to participate in other things, in other directions. “Do not stop your Christmas Eve traditions,” she said. “Traditions are so important; you’ll see it more as time goes by. And once you stop them, it’s very difficult to start them again.”

Every family celebrates special holidays in their own way. Christmas Eve is no exception with families incorporating a wide variety of traditions from the sacred to the sentimental. Here are a few of our favorites. Maybe they’ll inspire you to start a new tradition this year with the ones you love!

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19 Ways to Save Money as a Home Owner

Congratulations on your new home! Home ownership is one of the great milestones in life. It shows you’ve made it. You’ve got stability and security. You’re dependable. Nice going!

Now, all you have to do is move in and begin enjoying that unique and wonderful lifestyle…

But with the circus comes the monkeys. Before you lose that dewy-eyed wonder at your good fortune, take a hard-headed look at your new domicile to make sure it’s going to be a Shangri-La and not a money pit. As wise old Ben Franklin said: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Here are 19 hacks that can save you money upfront with your new home:

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Are You Damaging Your Home this Winter?

As temperatures dip, how you do household tasks — and the kinds you do — have to change in ways you probably don’t realize. “Doing basic chores the right way can save you thousands of dollars down the road,” says Brian Peppel, co-founder of HandyGuys.com. Here are the mistakes you’re likely making and the solutions to avoid coughing up dough for a pro later.

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Spousal Separation Strategy

Aside from the emotions involved with a separation, there are several things to consider and act upon relative to your current mortgage.

 

Now that your separation agreement has been finalized, some action likely needs to be taken. The main questions that need to be addressed are:

 

  1. if you will be buying a new property
  2. staying in the existing one

 

In the event of a new Purchase, here are a few areas to consider:

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30 Smart Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Fall

Cooler temperatures and pretty soon falling leaves serve as a reminder that the fall season is fast approaching. As the seasons change, so do our activities and home needs. Even though summer is not quite over yet, it’s a good time to do some seasonal maintenance to keep your home running smoothly. The weather can change quickly, especially if you live in a colder climate and you don’t want to be caught unprepared. A bit of attention now will save costly repairs and aggravation later.

Read More

Collateral Charge Undercover – Chapter 2

CBC’s Marketplace is out with a new undercover report on collateral charge mortgages.

 

The consumer affairs program found some bank reps who were not disclosing the pitfalls of collateral charges. That’s despite banks pledging to present collateral mortgages in language that’s “clear, simple and not misleading.”

 

CBC’s hidden camera catches one bank rep explaining collateral charges so poorly, he really has no business selling mortgages at all.

 

Marketplace then tapes another rep who misleadingly suggests that it’s easy to switch lenders with a collateral charge. That rep goes on to admonish the customer for “shopping around on rates.”

 

CBC says the mortgage specialists it targeted didn’t have any documentation to offer on collateral charge mortgages, despite the mystery shopper’s request and despite the “voluntary commitment” of banks to provide such information.

 

The segment picked on TD, but really the producers could have chosen any lender that sells collateral charges. There are so many lender reps who don’t understand collateral mortgages. Heck, for that matter many mortgage brokers can’t succinctly explain them.

 

Personal finance blogger Rubina Ahmed-Haq tells CBC that mortgage conversations with lenders who sell collateral charge mortgages “should start with the word collateral.”

 

“Tell me what I’m not familiar with [as a customer],” she says.

 

In reality, mortgage contracts have other elements that are more impactful on one’s overall borrowing costs. Examples include penalty calculations, refinance flexibility and the interest rate. But the collateral charge debate is worthwhile nonetheless since it benefits many to steer clear of this mortgage type.

 

At the same time, collateral charges shouldn’t be portrayed as a supreme evil of the mortgage universe when in fact they offer advantages to some. Their foremost benefit is readvanceability (i.e., the ability to borrow more money, or re-borrow paid-off principal) with no legal fees. Hence, as with so many other mortgage contract terms, this is an issue that boils down to education and disclosure.

Collateral Pitfalls Disclosed

Banks are improving their disclosures on the drawbacks of collateral charge mortgages.

 

Effective January 31, 2015, the Department of Finance says banks will start warning individual consumers about the implications of collateral charge mortgages “before entering into the mortgage loan agreement.”

 

The DoF says “consumers require sufficient information in order to more clearly understand the costs and consequences of a collateral charge mortgage relative to a conventional mortgage.”

 

One of those consequences, it says, is that “some consumers may find it difficult to switch between different lenders” when they have a collateral charge. That’s because lenders don’t typically accept collateral charges from other lenders on “switches.” Most require such mortgages to be refinanced, requiring legal fees of $500 to $900+.

 

Collateral charges have been hit with a slew of negative press in recent years, culminating in this exposé by CBC’s Marketplace. In reality, however, they’re quite routine with readvanceable mortgages — a popular form of mortgage that includes a line of credit.

 

For mortgages without a line of credit, collateral charges are far less useful. Lenders tout them as cheap ways to refinance but they fail to mention that what you save in legal fees can easily be consumed by potentially less-than-favourable rates on any new mortgage money you borrow. Remember, lenders rarely offer best rates when they know you can’t leave without paying a penalty. And, of course, you have to re-qualify for any new money borrowed.

 

As of September 1, major banks have all added collateral disclosures to their website. Here’s RBC’s for example (note its warnings, with our comments in italics):

 

  • With a traditional mortgage, “Your new lender may cover some or all of your costs to switch.”
    (In practice, most lenders cover your legal and appraisal fees on regular mortgage transfers.)
  • “Some lenders may not accept your request to transfer your existing collateral mortgage to them…If you wish to transfer or switch your existing collateral mortgage to a different lender, you will most likely have to pay fees to discharge your existing mortgage and register a new mortgage with the new lender.”
    (“Most likely” as in over 90% of the time.)
  • “…When you discharge your collateral mortgage, your current lender can require you to repay any additional funds that have been secured by the collateral mortgage, such as car loans.”

 

These new disclosures aren’t easy to find. We spent 20 minutes scouring one bank’s website for its online disclosure, followed by 15 minutes on hold and 25 minutes floating from telephone rep to telephone rep, asking where on the bank’s website the disclosure could be found. Three reps (including a credit representative and a second-level banking support agent) had absolutely no idea what the disclosure was. One flat-out said it wasn’t on the site at all, until we showed him that it was.

 

Those anecdotes aside, these disclosures are a positive and much-needed initiative. And we have the Department of Finance to thank for them. But banks need to make them more prominent and show examples of the real costs of a collateral charge.

Create Your Dream Home with Purchase PLUS Improvements

Have you ever fallen in love with a home, but just absolutely cannot stand the carpet in the living room? The kitchen cabinets are too outdated? The furnace or shingles need replacing immediately?

 

Rather than dismissing that particular property, consider utilizing the purchase plus improvement product! Allowing you to end your house hunt, and work towards making your dream home a reality.

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New to Canada (Part 2) – Things You Should Consider

While the prospect of purchasing a home for the first time in Canada is an exciting and important step, many newcomers choose to rent for the first several months to a year (or longer) after their arrival.

Before deciding whether to rent or buy, it’s important that you know what you can afford, weigh the options available and take the time to make the right decisions that will ensure a successful future in Canada. Do your research and consider the following:

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OSFI Tightens Supervisory Expectations for Mortgage Underwriting

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) issued a letter this morning to all federally regulated financial institutions (FRFI). The letter expresses concern about the rising levels of household debt in Canada and serves to remind FRFIs of their obligations under Guidelines B-20 and B-21 to assess and underwrite mortgage loans and mortgage insurance in a prudent manner.

 

The letter states:

 

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A Dream Come True: A Client Story

Submitted 05/12/2015

 

I had a dream, and Raquel Welch of Mortgage Professionals helped make it come true.

 

Please allow me to share my story.

 

I am a young mother of two and my husband and I dreamed of owning our own home. No more landlords! We started saving for a down payment. Once we had a little nest built up, we paid a visit to our institutional banker. They politely turned us down because my husband had no credit. In the mortgage world this is worse than having bad credit. We asked if they could establish his credit. Funny, banks will not give you credit if you don’t have credit.

 

A friend recommended Raquel Welch at Mortgage Professionals. We needed to find out how we could accomplish our goal of owning our own home. Firstly, she was quick to establish credit for my husband. She spoke and guided us in a clear and easy manner. Once all the number crunching was done and documentation varified, Raquel was able to find a lender willing to take a chance on a young couple like us. It was an exciting moment when she told us we could start shopping.

 

We are now the proud owners of our first home. We are settled in and have even completed some renovations. We could not have done this without the professional help of Raquel. We are so grateful for her professionalism and expertise. We would not hesitate to recommend Raquel to new or experienced home buyers. She will find the best product for you and give you as much help as you need along the way. She is a superstar!

How Credit Score Affects Mortgage Applications: 3 Experts Tell All

Q: Which is more important, credit utilization or credit-­to-­income ratio?

Right now I earn $60,000 per year and have access to three credit cards with a combined limit of $20,000. I have no other loans or debts and my current credit score (based on a FICO calculator) is about 720. I ask, because I’m starting to look at buying a house, and want to know what lenders consider as a more important ratio? Also, is it possible to better my credit score by reducing my credit utilization (which I would do by cancelling one credit card or asking for a lower limit)?

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How to Make Your Home Look Expensive (for cheap!)

Want your place to look like those home design website images you drool over? Of course you do! Problem is, your budget may not match your design aspirations. Fear not! Making your home look high-end isn’t always about spending tons of cash.

 

It’s a matter of taking the time and care to arrange things in an eye-pleasing way—and making small, inexpensive updates that have a big impact. In other words, it’s about being sneaky.

 

Here are a few tricks to pull if you want to add the illusion of luxury.

 

1. Declutter

Nothing says “this home ain’t worth much” like tons of disjointed knickknacks, piles of books, and other miscellaneous items that should be tossed or stored.

 

No, you don’t need to go full Marie Kondo, but going through your rooms and getting rid of anything that doesn’t mesh with your personal style is a great first step toward transforming your home from average to exceptional.

 

Walk through each room of your home and edit items. Make some tough decisions. Sure, you love your grandma’s vintage Chinese vase, but does it really jibe with your West Elm look? It might be time to store it or let it live in another room with similar family heirlooms.

 

Next step: Tackle any stuff that piles up—toys (if you have kids), shoes by the door, mail on the dining table. At the very least, find places for your stuff to live in a more organized way; an upgraded closet with beautifully sorted nooks and crannies looks luxurious. (Pro tip: We love Pottery Barn’s build-your-own pieces.)

 

2. Eliminate grunge

You may not have time for intensive cleaning on a weekly basis, but a once- or twice-yearly deep clean is an easy way to make your home look far more luxurious. After all, you rarely see a mansion with dirty baseboards.

 

Go through your home and search for overlooked areas that have become dirty and downright gross. You’ll want to pay special attention to the grouting, says designer Young Huh.

 

“Having old tile cleaned and regrouted makes a huge difference in having your bathroom look sparkly and fresh,” she says. Best of all: The process is simple and inexpensive.

 

Get sparkly new floors–minus the refinishing. Try steam cleaning wood floors for an immediate lift to the finish.

 

3. Add—or rearrange—lighting

Designers use lighting to define spaces and separate rooms, making a small space grand.

 

Think of your living room—where you might have a reading nook, sofas and chairs for company, and a television. Visually differentiate among the areas by using different kinds of lighting: Add a table lamp beside your cozy reading chair and sconces behind your couch for conversation. Consider a dimmer for overhead lights. Architects and lighting designers swear by them. Installing is a relatively simple DIY.

 

Bonus cheapskate tip: Use warm-colored lightbulbs, Huh says. Cool tones are a “sure-fire way to make your home look down-market,” she says. Daylight bulbs work best for reading nooks.

 

4. Upgrade your hardware

Don’t have a kitchen renovation in the budget? You can get a similar effect for much less by swapping out old, dated hardware for new.

 

Tired of your brushed-steel drawer pulls? Try gold, bronze, or even crystal—or make an adventure of it and scour your local thrift store for vintage hardware that screams your style.

 

It’s not hard to find attractive options in any decor style for next to nothing (a drawer pull, for instance, might start at just $3 or less). For hard-to-find designs, search etsy.

 

Changing the countertop and faucets is another change that can make your home look much pricier, Huh says. If you have the budget, exchange your dated sink accessories for something fresh that matches your brand-new hardware.

 

5. Repaint

There’s no simpler way to make an old home feel new than painting.

 

“This is the most important part,” Huh says. “Repaint and choose beautiful colors for an instant makeover.”

 

You can’t go wrong with classy neutrals. Minimalists might love a bright white combined with a bold accent wall; DIY decorators might enjoy a tasteful, sandy tan tone, which pairs well with any number of woods.

 

Paint isn’t just for your walls: Add some color to your front door, window trims, or even the floor, if you’re brave (hardwood can look amazing when painted white).

 

6. Focus on the devil in the (decor) details

Does your home feel a little meh—and you’re not sure how to change it? Try vignettes—combine decor items (e.g., vases, frames, and objets) that add visual interest to an otherwise bland area—perhaps a shelf or console table. Organize your vignette around a theme so that the decor items are unified and tell a visual story. Go around your house and cull items you love that need a new home (see tip No. 1 on decluttering).

 

For example, take that silver tray you’ve been wanting a use for, add a glass tumbler with a fresh flower, that postcard your parents sent from Thailand, and a white bowl filled with colorful candy. Voilà: You now have a magazine-worthy vignette!

 

Another way to go: Grouping together multiples of the same object (e.g., glass vases in the same color) is an instant update. Decorators often use odd numbers because they are said to be more appealing.

 

Before you know it, you’ll be posting pics of your gorgeous home.

 

 

 

 

Article originally posted on Realtor.com.

5 Ways to Make Your Home Sell Faster

Being a seller on the real estate market can be a nail-biting affair. It’s a process that may just bring out feelings of house-consciousness such as, “Is my house pretty enough?” and “What if they don’t like the front door color?” While it’s impossible to know for sure every little thing that potential sellers are looking for – they all have different interests, after all – there are some things you can include in your home to get it sold more quickly.

Here are the five best things you can do to get your home to sell faster. I wrote this article when seating with my friend and co-founder of APPLE & BEARS.

 

1. Work on That Curb Appeal
Whether a potential buyer has seen your listing or not, the first thing he or she is going to see isn’t your foyer – it’s the outside of your home. If you’re a house owner, whether you’ve taken good care of your lawn in the past, now is the time to do so. A shabby-looking front yard, or even a faded front door, might make the bad impression that turns things against your favor.

If you put a little work into what you house looks on the outside, a great looking exterior may even have a greater effect of bringing in potential buyers right off the street.

 

2. Include Good Photos in the Listing
Whether you’re listing your home yourself or you’re having a realtor take care of it, you’ll want to be sure that you’re making a good impression both in real life and online (and in the newspapers). Not only should your listing include all the necessary information in easy-to-read language for house hunters, but it should also include some stunning photos.

You’ll want to take good-looking pictures of as many rooms as possible, showing off different angles of each room. No need to pull out Photoshop, but do make sure your house is tidy before snapping some pics.

 

3. Keep in Tidy
It should go without saying that when you have an open house, your home should look presentable. Not only should you be sure to do a deep clean of all the rooms in your house, you’ll also want to keep those areas tidy whenever there’s a showing. That means getting rid of the pocket change on the bedroom dresser and keeping the kid’s toys kept away. And if you have furry friends, make sure you’ve taken care of pet hair. A potential buyer with allergies will be sneezing his or her way to the door, with the sale unclosed.

 

4. Install Barn Doors or Subway Tile
If you’re up and up on recent home design and decor trends, then you’ll know it’s no secret that barn doors are totally in these days. In fact, a study from Zillow confirmed such. The study found that homes with the words “barn door” in their listing descriptions sold for 13 percent more and nearly two months quicker than the average. Good news if your home has a barn door, and if not – maybe it’s time for a weekend project! The study also has some other great DIY ideas that will get your house sold quicker.

 

5. Work With a Realtor
If you’re planning on going through all this yourself, good luck. Get ready to be fielding calls at all hours of the day, making tons of calls yourself, and doing mountains of paperwork. While you might save a little money doing things yourself, a realtor can take a lot of the stress out of the homeselling equation, allowing you to focus more on what’s important: getting the house in showing condition. A helping hand, such as the great realtors at Homes ATX in Austin, will be one the biggest factors in getting your house sold quickly.

 

Article taken from Lifehack.

13 Star Wars Inspired Houses You Probably Want to Own

Star Wars may take place a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, but I’d still like to hang out there for a day if technology could only make it happen.

 

Everything in the Star Wars universe is massive and — to our 21st century minds — a little weird looking. Instead of being designed for aesthetic, many elements of the Star Wars world seem to be designed for utility (but they’re still pretty beautiful in their own way).

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Rebuilding Your Credit: FAQs

  1. How long does it take to rebuild my credit?

    Credit can’t be rebuilt overnight, but it can be rebuilt. That’s why it’s best to start as soon as possible. Like a fine wine, a carefully aged, 50-year-old bottle of wine will likely taste much better than a 1-month-old bottle straight off of store shelves. The process of rebuilding your credit is much the same. While the steps you take to rebuild your credit can begin making some impact to your credit fairly quickly, time is the most important ingredient. The actual amount of time varies from person to person, depending on their situation and how poor their credit is. If you follow a sound credit rebuilding plan, you should expect to see significant improvements to your credit within approximately one year, and excellent progress after two to three years. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that you don’t need perfect credit to get car loans, mortgages, credit cards, or other forms of credit – but the better your credit, the easier it will be (and the less it will cost you).

  2.  

  3. How soon should I begin rebuilding my credit after bankruptcy?

    It’s a common misconception in Canada that you can’t obtain a loan until you are discharged from bankruptcy. If you have declared bankruptcy, your only legal requirement is that you must disclose to a potential lender or creditor that you are undischarged from bankruptcy – it’s up to the lender to decide if they are willing to give you the loan. This means that you can start rebuilding your credit the day after you file for bankruptcy, and since rebuilding takes time, that’s not a bad idea! Depending on your financial state, and short-term goals, the sooner you begin the process of rebuilding, the better off you’ll be in the long run.

  4.  

  5. Do payday loans help rebuild my credit?

    Payday loans do not report to your credit report due to the short term nature of the loan, so it is impossible for a payday loan to help you rebuild your credit. Whenever you are looking to rebuild your credit, it’s absolutely critical that the lender who gives you a loan reports your monthly payments to credit monitoring agencies.

  6.  

  7. How much credit should I get in order to rebuild my credit rating?

    While having some credit amount reporting to credit monitoring agencies is better than nothing, the amount will impact lender’ decisions to give you financing for things like a mortgage, a car loan, or a business loan. For example, if you only have a $500 secured credit card reporting to your credit,  and you apply for a $500,000 mortgage, the creditor will not look favourably on your situation because you don’t have a history of being able to manage a significant amount of debt. While the definition of “significant amount of debt” will vary from lender to lender, it is typically agreed that a loan or credit card with a starting balance or limit of at least $1500-$2000 is necessary to make a significant difference. If you have previously filed for bankruptcy, some mortgage lenders require a minimum of $5000 in re-established credit on your credit report before you’ll be considered for financing.

  8.  

  9. Is a secured credit card the only form of credit I can obtain to start rebuilding?

    No. A secured credit card, sometimes called “revolving credit”, will help if you don’t overuse it and get into more financial trouble, but you should also have at least one “non-revolving’ term loan, such as a car loan or an investment loan. If you are approved for a non-revolving loan, that loan will provide significant additional help towards rebuilding your credit. Ideally, therefore, it is best to obtain two types of credit – a revolving loan (credit card) and a non-revolving loan (a term loan)

  10.  

  11. If my credit is bad, when should I start rebuilding my credit?

    The sooner you begin the process of rebuilding your credit, the better. However, if you owe a number of creditors and are falling behind on your payments, you need to take care of your creditors first by either paying them out or by talking to a credit counselor or bankruptcy trustee to advise you of your options.

  12.  

  13. If I’m looking to rebuild my credit, is it better to have a credit card, or a loan?

    In the long term, we recommend that you have both types of credit reporting to credit monitoring agencies: a non-revolving type of credit (a term loan) and a revolving type, (a secured credit card). Since some people can run into difficulty when managing a credit card, however, a term loan can be a safer, more financially responsible way to start the credit rebuilding process.

3 Ways to Make Your House Feel Like Home

Fashion and decor often get a bad rap. They are seen by many as frivolous and indulgent, materialistic and unimportant. Unimportant? I kindly disagree. 

While a Pinterest-perfect home is far from necessary, a home that makes you smile surely is. Whether you have a home full of coveted antiques, cool modern furniture, or nothing but IKEA, if your home makes you happy, that’s what really matters.

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How to Get Your Home for the Fairest Price

All homebuyers have one thing in common: they don’t want to get ripped off. In today’s increasingly frothy housing market – existing-home sales rose to a seasonally adjusted 5.46 million in December 2015, 7.7% above the previous year, according to the National Association of Realtors – it’s especially important to make sure you get the right price.

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What Exactly IS a Mortgage Broker?

If you have started looking for your first, or even just a new home, you’ve probably heard the term “mortgage broker” get thrown around. You may have heard good things, and you may have heard bad things.

 

Regardless, a mortgage broker is essentially a middleman between the borrower/homeowner and the bank or mortgage lender. They work directly with both the consumer and the bank to help borrowers qualify for a mortgage, whether it be a purchase mortgage or a refinance.

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What is a Credit Rating and How Does it Work?

Credit is critical in our society. Our goal is to not only make sure that you learn the basics about how to build a good credit score, but also how to handle your current credit. In our years of working with people and reviewing their credit, we’ve seen that credit is best described as a test. But unlike most tests we take throughout our lives, you aren’t told how to study or prepare yourself for it! And when you take the test, while you might find out if you passed or failed, you don’t find out what areas could use improvement, or what steps you can take to improve your score.

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9 Ways to Help Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

Purchasing a home is an exciting milestone in the lives of many people. For some it means freedom, for others it means independence, but for almost everyone it means mortgage payments and intimidating debt. Don’t let the financial worry keep you from taking this next step in your life. Considering these tips can help reduce the financial burden sooner, and get your mortgage paid off ASAP.

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Are You Eligible for a $5,000 Tax Rebate?

As we are coming into tax season, we know that folks are always looking for ways to pay less income tax.

 

We thought it might be helpful to share the following link that could permit you to obtain a $5,000 rebate from the CRA…it’s like Christmas all over again!

 

If you purchased a home in 2015, you may be eligible for a $5,000 tax credit if you were a first-time buyer or a person with a disability.

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4 Reasons a Mortgage Broker is Your Best Option

With so many options, deciding on the best way to finance your home can be stressful and overwhelming. One of the first decisions that should be made is whether you would like to go through a banking institution or a mortgage broker. If you are finding yourself stuck on this decision, here are 4 reasons why choosing to work with a mortgage broker can benefit you, your credit, and your bank accounts.

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Clients feel lender demands are ‘lunacy’

image002

     by Justin da Rosa | 23 Nov 2015

Mortgagebrokernews.ca

Lenders have had to adapt to changing guidelines, which have caused tighter underwriting resulting in delays – much to the  mounting frustration of clients as well as their brokers.

“ … I attended a lenders meeting a while ago and expressed concerns about policies versus the customer (sentiment),” Lorne Rackel, general manager with Jayman Financial, wrote in the comments section of MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “The process is all about documenting a file and the customer pays the price of inconvenience and then becomes frustrated with us as brokers.
“They think some of our requests for documents borders on lunacy.”

Of course, document demands are neither the fault of the broker nor the lender. As industry players point out, they’re merely the result of stringent underwriting guidelines that seem to apply specifically to the broker industry.

“What I find interesting … is that no one has tabled the fact that the big five play with a completely different set of rules,” Blair Goodman, financing specialist with Dominion Lending Centres in British Columbia, wrote on MortgageBrokerNews.ca. “Why aren’t our designated associations and representatives lobbying the government to demand the entire industry play by the same set of rules?”

The comments come on the heels of a number of brokers expressing frustrations about income verification requirements that have delays – and in some cases spoiled – deals.

Brokers have struggled with gifted funds, as well as seemingly insignificant bank account balances that resulted in delays while trying to verify.

Radon – a serious health threat to Canadians that can be easily tested for – and rectified!

 

RadonPic

 

Thanks so much to Brooks Gee, owner and operator of Safe Air Solutions, for being so passionate about this topic and ensuring that we spread the word! http://www.safeairsolutions.ca

 

Radon gas is a radioactive carcinogen which causes lung cancer. It comes directly from the soil and causes the death of more than 3200 people in Canada  and 21,000 Americans each year. According to a recent CBC study across Canada, approximately 1 in 10 homes will have radon levels that are above the acceptable level dictated by Health Canada standards.

 

Radon may be in your home!!! What can you do about this? Purchase a test for your home (at a cost of less than $50.00!) and should the levels be too high, bring a radon mitigation expert into your home to assess the severeness of the radon levels and advise as to what might be the best radon mitigation system for your home. Tests for radon can be purchased via the internet at http://mr-radon.ca , by calling Mr Radon toll-free at 1-888-472-3664 , and can also be found in major hardware box stores.

 

If you have purchased a newly constructed home with the New Tarion Home Warranty (within the last few years), then the cost of the mitigation system should even be covered by your warranty!

 

Watch this video for more detailed information….     http://mr-radon.ca/radon-health/cbc-interview-with-bob-wood/ 

 

Positive Changes on rental calculations!

                                                               Genworth Canada Mortgage Insurance Company

                                                                               Rental Income Calculations!
1. Owner-Occupied 2-Unit Properties:
• Greater than 80% LTV
• Genworth will now accept 100% of the rental income across Canada subject to:
• Each applicant having minimum credit score of 680
• Income must have been sustained for at least two years and the two year average of the income is to be used for qualification.
• If the above credit and income requirements cannot be met, 50% of rental income is to be used for qualification.
• Taxes and heat are to remain excluded from the debt service ratio calculation (no change to existing policy)

2. Owner-Occupied 3-4 Unit Properties (greater than 80% LTV) & Non-Owner Occupied Rental Properties:
• Lenders may use their existing policy to calculate net rental income. At a minimum, operating expenses must include mortgage interest, maintenance and vacancy
Net rental income surplus may be added to the gross annual income
• Net rental income shortfall should be deducted from the applicant’s gross annual income.

 

3. Income Confirmation (All LTV’s)
• For properties with existing rental units, lease agreements are to be obtained to confirm rental income.
• For properties with new rental units, income is to be confirmed via fair market rent from an appraisal.

N.B. As in all mortgage insurance changes, lenders’ policies may not adhere to mortgage insurance guidelines…

Bank of Canada – leaving rates unchanged

image002TD Economics

Data Release: The Bank downgrades its outlook for economic growth in Canada, but leaves interest rates unchanged

*   The Bank of Canada left its key policy rate unchanged at 0.50% today. The Bank judges the current level of the overnight rate to be appropriate, but maintained a cautious tone in its outlook, acknowledging global risks and citing that the persistently low level of commodity prices has led to a modest downgrade to the bank’s growth forecast.
*   Overall, the Bank’s statement acknowledges the disappointment in global growth this year, but points out that in 2016 and 2017 the positive effects of cheaper energy and accommodative financial conditions should become increasingly evident. It characterizes Canada’s economy as having rebounded, supported by the stimulative effects of past interest rate cuts and the past depreciation of the loonie. It also expects the U.S. economy to continue to grow at a solid pace
*   The Bank updated its forecasts in the accompanying Monetary Policy Report (MPR). Economic growth in Canada is expected to be better in Q3 than the Bank had estimated back in July. However, the Bank downgraded its real GDP growth forecasts to 2.0% in 2016 (previously 2.3%) and 2.5% in 2017(previously 2.6%). At the same time, as a result of the continued weakness expected in business investment, the Bank downgraded its estimate of the potential growth rate of Canada’s economy. Therefore, the timing on when the Bank expects the economy to return to full capacity is only marginally later than was previously expected, at mid-2017.
*   For what it’s worth, the Bank’s forecast for core inflation was upgraded slightly over the forecast horizon, but it remains close to the Bank’s 2% target. The Bank characterizes inflation as having evolved largely in line with the outlook in the July MPR. The Bank of Canada has recently de-emphasized its traditional core inflation measure, since it is being temporarily boosted by a weaker Canadian dollar. Thus, core inflation is currently out of step with where the Bank views “underlying inflation”, or where inflation is running once temporary factors are stripped away. The bank estimates underlying inflation to be between 1.5-1.7%, consistent with recent speeches.

Key Implications

 *   The Bank’s decision to leave rates unchanged was widely expected. It maintained a cautious tone, acknowledging that the Canadian economy rebounded smartly from the contraction in the first half of the year, but that it continues to adjust to lower prices for oil and other commodities. The current level of monetary policy stimulus is necessary to facilitate this ongoing adjustment.
 *   The downgrade to the Bank’s growth outlook further out in the horizon is in line with more modest global growth and continued weakness in energy prices. This would typically mean the economy returning to full capacity at a later date, but the Bank also downgraded its estimate of Canada’s pace of potential growth. As a result, there is little effect on the outlook for inflation.
 *   At the same time, with the Bank now focused on a measure of underlying inflation rather than core, the performance of the economy relative to growth expectations is particularly important. The new forecasts in the MPR set the bar that Canada’s economy must attain to see the eventual removal of monetary stimulus. If growth falls short of the mark, it could elicit further rate cuts.
 *   Overall, with the outlook for inflation little changed and the growth much the same as our latest outlook<http://www.td.com/document/PDF/economics/qef/qefsep2015_canada.pdf>, we expect the bank to remain comfortably on the sidelines until the second half of 2017, when it is expected to embark on a modest pace of interest rate hikes.
Leslie Preston, Economist

June 1st Increase!

Genworth Canada Announces New Mortgage Insurance Premium Rates

April 6, 2015

TORONTO, April 6, 2015 /CNW/ – Effective June 1, 2015, Genworth Canada will increase its mortgage insurance premium rates for homebuyers with less than a 10 per cent down payment by approximately 15 per cent.

“This new pricing is reflective of higher capital requirements and supports the long-term health of Canada’s housing finance system,” said Stuart Levings , President and CEO of Genworth Canada.  “Genworth Canada remains committed to helping Canadians achieve homeownership responsibly and we believe these changes will not have a material impact on affordability.”

To illustrate, a typical first-time homebuyer taking out a 95 per cent loan-to-value mortgage of $300 000 will see an increase of approximately $6 in their monthly mortgage payment (based on a 2.79 per cent interest rate and 25-year amortization period).

The new premium rates for standard owner-occupied purchase applications submitted on or after June 1, 2015 are as follows:

Loan-to-Value Ratio

Standard Premium
(Current)

Standard Premium

 (Effective June 1st, 2015)

Up to and including 65%

0.60%

0.60%

Up to and including 75%

0.75%

0.75%

Up to and including 80%

1.25%

1.25%

Up to and including 85%

1.80%

1.80%

Up to and including 90%

2.40%

2.40%

Up to and including 95%

3.15%

3.60%

90.01% to 95% Non-

Traditional Down Payment

3.35%

3.85%

 

What and whom does this affect??? First time homebuyers with less than 10% as your down payment! This is applicable to Genworth Financial and CMHC – so get your applications in asap to avoid the increase in mortgage insurance premium!

 

Our Annual Business Trip – this year to celebrate our 25th – down south!

DomRepArt1Thanks so much to The Mortgage Professionals owners and sponsoring lenders for thinking outside of the box for our 25th Annual Conference!

What a great idea! A trip for all employees including agents and administrators (whom chose to attend), team managers, spouses/partners, and various business development leaders from lenders that work closely in partnership with us!

Relationship building through a completely different perspective: a personal approach.

We preach it, we live it, and we breath it with our clients: we are successful because we love our clients and get to know them personally! Refreshing to do the same with our own team!

Spring market here we come! We are refreshed, re-energized, and ready!!

Flowers in the winter for our new downtown office!

 RedTrain-150What wonderful partners to work with!

Just received flowers from Jon at RedTrain for our new “digs”!

http://www.redtrain.ca  

Jon has been instrumental in creating my website and also in helping me develop our flyer announcing our move!

Thank you Jon!

SageFlowersLogoAlso a big shout out to Jen at Sage Flowers as her arrangements are ALWAYS gorgeous and always suit the reason and time of year for their occasion!  She also has the most infectious laugh and positive energy I have ever encountered!!!!

http://sage-flowers.myshopify.com  

Thank you Jen!

                 

Women working for women!!!

As a woman, I feel that I perceive things differently, react to challenges differently and choose my service providers very carefully…I only work with people I know, like, and trust; this is why I am so excited to be a part of Kingston Women’s Real Estate Network!

Maybe Flower Power is Back??!! Women working with women to obtain the best possible services for each other!

Check it out!

https://www.facebook.com/womeninkingstonrealestate

KWREN Video

Thinking of a major home renovation?

Thinking home renovation?!

Before Kitchen

Home Renovation Kitchen. Before…

Are you thinking about a home renovation? Whether you are simply repainting your living room, buying some new furniture, organizing those children’s toys, or rehauling your kitchen in its entirety – think:

Susan Deveau Design   !

Susan is a reasonably-priced interior decorator (yes, that in fact EXISTS!) that will help you ascertain what colour scheme you really want, where the furniture pieces should sit, what lighting will best highlight your art or wall hangings, and ensure that you are NOT overspending on any new items that you need to purchase for your entire renovation!

 

Kitchen After

Home Renovation – Kitchen. After…

The “proof is in the pudding” – check out Susan’s before and after photos…

Susan will stage your home to sell for more money than you thought, provide suggestions for that tiny accessory that makes a world of difference, or even save you enough money to cover her entire fee by her vigilant  watch of retail sales for all home accessories…We were contemplating the relocation of a staircase in our home (to our upstairs bedroom) in order to enlarge our living room. After careful assessment and a few measurements, Susan made us realize that although it would indeed accomplish our goal for the living room, it would hinder our layout plan for our  bedroom & ultimately be a waste of time, money, and energy!

   Thank you Susan for saving us the dust and grief on this one! 🙂

Susan Deveau Pricing

 

 Susan Deveau Design

Check out Canada Guaranty's new work book for First Time Homebuyers!

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